Surviving a Stroke at 33 (and Blogging About It)

Surviving a Stroke at 33 (and Blogging About It) News

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 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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New Research Says Tragedy Can Bring Positive Change And Happiness


The Wall Street Journal recently published an article on a new area of research — the surprising upside of surviving a tragedy — like stroke. In 2013 a young psychologist at Harvard  surveyed 50 individuals who’d been paralyzed in accidents decades earlier, 50 lottery winners who took home about $6 million a decade earlier, and the same number of people who had experienced neither. The three groups reported about the same level of happiness, though the accident survivors were slightly happier than the others.

That probably amazes most people, but after reading posts on stroke Facebook groups, listening at support groups and interviewing people who’ve recovered from strokes, I’m not surprised. So many individuals have said how grateful they are and how happy they are with their “new lives.” They refer to the date of their stroke as their “re-birth” and throw parties. There is life after stroke, and it can be happy.

This is all part of a new way of thinking about and researching the aftermath of trauma. Working in the early 1980s, Richard Tedeschi and Lawrence Calhoun at the University of North Carolina, first coined the term “post-traumatic growth” to describe the positive changes that many survivors were reporting. I’ve seen a lot of evidence of this and would love to hear more about it. If you have comments or stories, please let me know here.


A Great Advice Column You Should Know About


I met Leigh Kost online and think she is full of great advice, humor and plain good sense. She does an online advice column for Her address is below in bold.  Check it out. Send her questions. Send me questions and follow the blog. We’re really getting this thing going! — Maureen


Ask Leigh: Staying Positive After a Stroke
Posted by Leigh Kost Jul 17 2015

Dear Leigh: I had a massive stroke. Everyone tells me I need to be positive. I’m devastated, and really can’t see how I’m supposed to be positive. -James

Leigh Kost: No one would deny that you’ve been through something tragic. I am now 6 years post-stroke. I spent most of the first 2 years asking, “Why me?” People would also tell me I needed to be positive, but I resisted strongly. I want to share something with you that I hope will help you keep a positive mind and attitude. My progress improved exponentially when I stopped asking the why me question, and starting asking myself how can I conquer this. I still have a long road ahead of me, but after 6 years of having my stroke, I have far exceeded what the doctors predicted. You wouldn’t recognize the person I am today from the person I was back then. The turn-around round really started when I changed my perspective of my situation.

Dear Leigh: I have children, and since I can’t play with them the way I want, I’m afraid this will affect how they are as adults. -Lisa

LK: I guarantee this will affect them as adults, but not in the way you are thinking. My children were young when I had my stroke, so I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this topic. I’ve come to realize that there are many things my children will learn from this that will make them stronger and more compassionate adults. They are my ultimate inspiration. Everything becomes worth it when I hear “Mom, we are proud of you.” Given that they are teenagers, I do not hear that often. I am confident that will change as they grow older.

Dear Leigh: I would like to attend a support group, but I don’t know how to find one. -Susan

LK: National Stroke Association has a website with several, helpful resources. There is a Find a Support Group link which will list support groups in your area. There is also information regarding how to start your own.
Leigh Kost is a stroke survivor who wants to help people within the stroke community cope with the emotional and lifestyle changes that can occur following a stroke. She gives advice based on her own personal experience. She is not a healthcare professional and cannot give medical advice. You can submit questions for Leigh at

The material provided in this column is designed for entertainment purposes only. The views expressed reflect those of the author and do not reflect the opinion of National Stroke Association. You should not rely on any information on this page to replace consultations with qualified healthcare professionals to meet your individual medical needs.

After Surviving A Stroke You Won’t Be The Same Person

 Haruki Murakami, Japanese novelist 

“…once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”
― Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

This quote from the Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami has everything to do with surviving life’s trials and certainly strokes. I think about this a lot as I interview successful stroke survivors.


Introducing a New Blog: Successfully Surviving Stroke

Hi, I’m a journalist writing a book on surviving stroke. I’ve been researching and writing for over a year and have a way to go, as I have to make my living while working on the book. Also titled Successfully Surviving Stroke, the book  (and the blog) are written for people who’ve had strokes, their families, caregivers, friends and communities. Though neither are intended for doctors, nurses or therapists they both owe a great deal to the professionals’ collective expertise and wisdom.

The blog is a way to keep in touch with all the people I’ve interviewed and others who are interested in my progress and what I’m learning about stroke, especially what makes for successful survival. I intend to write regular entries and hope you check back often to read, make comments and ask questions. Welcome and thanks — Maureen