Surviving a Stroke at 33 (and Blogging About It)

Surviving a Stroke at 33 (and Blogging About It)

The WordPress.com Blog

Christine Hyung-Oak Lee suffered a stroke when she was 33, and she has written about her experience in an inspiring personal essay for BuzzFeed.

Before that, she was using a pseudonym on WordPress.com to blog about her experiences, share details about her life, and practice her writing. In 2007, shortly after New Year’s Day, Lee wrote the following in a blog post:

something in my brain burped. most of what i want to do is just out of my grasp. i feel like i know how to do them, but then when i go to do them, i just…CAN’T. day by day, i’m regaining my abilities, so i hope this is just temporary.

Lee’s commenters urged her to see a doctor, and the next day, she responded to them from a hospital bed: “I had a stroke! Will be better.”

I spoke with Lee about her experience, and…

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Why Write a Book and Blog About Stroke?

People often ask me why I’m writing about stroke. They assume I’ve had a stroke, or that someone close to me had a stroke. Actually a friend of mine, a doctor, told me that when her mom had a stroke she knew what to do for her in terms of medical help. But she and her family had no idea how to help her go on with her life after the stroke. So, they did what most people do. They googled. They went to the bookstore. But they found very little a family could use. She thought it would be a good idea for me to write a book for patients, families and caregivers.

I knew from my work as a reporter and writer that most people are helped by stories about other people that they could relate to. So right away I knew I had to interview lots of people and get lots of stories. I started to listen to  stories and I was amazed at how many different kinds of individuals have strokes. I was fascinated with how they recovered and went on to live lives — not the same lives as before — but good lives, happy lives.

I also learned that stroke neurology has advanced, particularly in the last twenty years. I couldn’t find those improvements explained in one place so that people could read in layman’s terms about the new life-saving advances in the field. There’s a lot of new ideas, from the clot busters that have been proven safe and affective to neuroplasticity which means the brain can learn to compensate for lost abilities. It’s now known that patients can continue to improve for years after stroke.  It’s these ideas that I want to write about, and how they affect every day peoples’ lives so that anyone who has suffered a stroke, or their loved ones, can learn more about how to successfully survive stroke.