Stroke victims share message of support to fellow survivors

Published: Nov. 2, 2022 at 6:10 PM EDT
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COLCHESTER, Vt. (WCAX) - The period after a stroke and be scary and confusing for both victims and their families. That’s why the UVM Medical Center is trying to make starting on the road to recovery a little easier.

“I couldn’t sit up, couldn’t walk, couldn’t lift my head on the bed,” recalled Rachel McKnight, who survived a stroke in 2011 shortly after receiving a bone marrow transplant. The Jericho resident says the rehab process continues to be an ongoing journey of recovery.

“I can ride a bike, go kayaking, skiing, and everything,” McKnight said. Both McKnight and her husband, Ted, are WCAX Super Seniors from 2020, partly for their bike riding abilities. When it comes to the spouse’s role post-stroke, Ted has his own story to share. “We spent 18 months living downstairs before Rachel got strong enough to walk back upstairs,” he recalled.

Ted and the rest of the family built a ramp to get into the house as well as adapted the space to be ready for Rachel. It’s something he says he wasn’t prepared for at the time. “Life changes and you come up with different ways to do things to stay as active as possible,” he said.

The McKnights’ story of resilience, along with others is being compiled in one place. “The booklet includes stories of people who have survived a stroke, and we know that everyone’s journey is a little bit different,” said Becky Louko, who oversees the stroke support group that UVM Medical center runs. She says the idea for a booklet came from the wife of a participant and that its goal is simple. “Just awareness of what’s out there that they might have the opportunity to do that they wouldn’t otherwise know about.”

The booklet, which will be online and in print, will also contain other support and resources for stroke survivors and their families. Louko hopes it will provide hope at what can be a scary time. “That ability to see, ‘Well, gosh, I can get back to doing those things that I want to be able to do,’” she said.

And for the McKnights, it’s to send a message to fellow survivors. “Don’t ever give up, because I didn’t,” Rachel said.