Around 10:00 pm, September 8, 2011, the right hand of a 58 year-old woman felt tingly as she was on her laptop. She went to bed, couldn’t sleep, and moved to the sofa. At about 2:00 am, she woke up…cheek, chest, numb — all the way down to her toes. Her husband took her to ER.

The MRI showed a blood clot on the left side of her brain, affecting the right side of her body. She was told she had a stroke. Why? She was active, coached tennis, ate right, had no family history or other symptoms like sagging face, slurred words, or blurred vision. No one, not even the doctors explained how she could have had a stroke. More importantly, no one gave her any instructions on what to do. Three days later, a nurse told her she could go home — she didn’t know what to expect.

By chance, the woman saw her nephew, a physical therapist. “Aunty, keep doing everything the same as you did before,” he advised. One simple sentence made the biggest difference in her life. She kept forcing her fingers, arms, and legs to move. She even kept working; walking without assistance in a week, hitting tennis balls in four weeks, and driving in six weeks. Self-motivation with her own therapy, no medical assistance, helped her recover—that woman was me! My PT Angel was Shaw Okawara.

I shared my experience with the Hawai’I Neurotrauma Registry, a voluntary registry for persons with brain, stroke, and spinal cord injury.

If you’ve had this type of injury, please consider taking the online survey at (be sure to click the “submit” button through several pages, read the content through until you get to filling in your information). You may also call (808) 692-1375 for information. By sharing your experience, it’ll help others.