This week we’re featuring a guest post by Kelly Fucheck, of the Empowered Strides blog. Kelly is a stroke survivor, and is working tirelessly to help others change their lives for a better future. 

When my stroke was actually happening, the thought never crossed my mind that it was a stroke. For two long, excruciating days during June of 2010, I waited before I went to my doctor. After a week in ICU, 11 months in recovery, and by the grace of the good Lord, I recovered and received the all clear in from my wonderful Doctor. I was told one thing: I needed to get my body moving.

At the time I was 32, and severely overweight with the scale topping at 270lbs. I was an occasional smoker, extremely tired all the time, and I lacked any type of fitness regimen.

But I am also a blessed wife and a mom of two (a nine-year-old boy and a four-year-old girl). Which means it’s about more than just me.

stroke-survivor

After her stroke, Kelly now works hard to give back and help others live long, healthy lives!

“Just give me five minutes on the treadmill every day Kelly,” said my Doctor. The first night I did my five minutes I came slowly out of my bedroom beaded in sweat. In my Husband’s general direction I voiced my opinion: “This is ridiculous!! people have cars to get around!” My awesome Husband just looked at me and said, “He wants five minutes, if not for you then for our son.” Well that’s all I needed to hear…so on to the treadmill for my five minutes every night. In a month’s time that treadmill was no longer a clothes hanger, it was my path to freedom! This led to walking faster which led to a passion for running. I finished my very first 5k a minute under one hour and I was thrilled!

Things changed a bit when I developed several health issues which I thought were stemming from the stroke medications that I previously took. Odd things began to occur like severe hives and huge itchy whelps in all my hot spots. I also developed acid reflux, joint and back pain, severe head fog, and I was just plain exhausted. My sense of self was lost and my feelings whether up or down were never impactful. I was simply “getting through” the day. Imagine feeling like an elderly woman trapped inside a desperately seeking wellness body. That was me.

I started researching on my own, and I was introduced to the possible culprit of my decrepit state. What I found was the basis of food allergens, and a possible remedy in Paleo-type lifestyles; inspired, I dove in. I studied clean eating and learned how to cook (it’s sad, but I could barely boil water before!) Learning these new skills was life changing for me! With learning about nutrition, supplements and my newfound love of fitness, I was able to lose 60 lbs and am still going!

We were beyond blessed with our second child post stroke which is just a miracle!

But it was my Father’s untimely death propelled me into a state of serving.

It was in 2014 when my Dad, my Hero, the best Retired Houston Firefighter/EMT ever, was called above that I truly started sharing my story in the hopes of helping someone else. Dad always told me that I survived because “God had big plans for me here”; he was my biggest supporter and encourager. It was my nightmare when he passed suddenly from Pancreatitis with less than a month’s notice. But while being forced to live off balance for a while was difficult, it was during those hard times I found strength, I found my purpose, and I began to take risks.

Being a stroke survivor presented a plethora of emotions and obstacles, and I didn’t acknowledge the severity nor the blessing that my stroke was. I never spoke much of it because I was ashamed of it. When Dad passed and after I was saved by Grace, it all came abundantly clear. I needed to put myself out there and take some risks professionally and share my story and help others get healthy. We have one life, and one body, so making them shine was the goal.

I have always been a plus size woman and still am however, this does not define me. The scale does not dictate my happiness like it once used to. Embracing my curves and muscle or “murves” has been empowering, and I want every woman to embrace theirs. I’ve learned life-changing valuable lessons. Through fitness and eating healthy I’ve found the love and compassion for my body, what it can do and has done. Before my stroke I would have never imagined that I would have finished several 5k’s, 10k’s and six Half Marathons. I developed a love for lifting, CrossFit and yoga after my stroke, which is amazing to me. It’s ok to change, it’s ok to reinvent yourself and chase after your dreams.

I don’t know if the way I live now would have prevented my stroke from occurring, but I find comfort and strength knowing that everything happens for a reason. Perhaps this all happened so that I can be of help to someone else and help them. Take care of yourself, your body, mind and soul.

My Stroke saved my life. It’s changed me forever and I am thankful for it.

If you’d like to learn more about Kelly and the work she’s doing, be sure to visit her blog here

Related: A Stroke Survivor Turned Vitality Coach Shares Her Wisdom, Finding Your Tribe: Tracie’s Story