In June 2000, Joyce Beatty was serving her first year as a member of the Ohio House of Representatives. One afternoon, in her office, her throat shut down.
“I couldn’t swallow, couldn’t talk and couldn’t cry for help. As I reached for the phone to take a call, my left side was numb. I collapsed.”
Timing is everything
A nearby receptionist swung into action. At 50, Beatty had suffered a cerebral brain stem stroke.
“I was lucky in that, once 911 was called, the paramedics were close by, right across the street, and the hospital was two blocks away.”
Beatty underwent extensive treatment and therapy, regaining movement, speech and control of her eyes. The journey was emotional.
“I was told I might never walk again, so I worked twice as hard. When I was told to do two hours of physical therapy, I did at least four. I left the hospital in a wheelchair, and once I was back on my feet, I wore corrective shoes. I now celebrate my recovery by regularly wearing three-inch heels.”
Beatty has introduced the Return to Work Awareness Act to assist stroke and heart attack patients who are physically able to go back to their jobs.
“I want other survivors of stroke to know they can work if it’s meaningful for them to do so. I also want to make it clear to employers that people who suffered a stroke are still able to contribute to the workplace, and shouldn’t be discounted just because of their stroke.”
Advice to others
Beatty says never give up.
“Don’t focus on the negative. While your recovery may be challenging, each day you should focus on your accomplishments, no matter how small you may think they are.”
She adds, “Share your story. Sharing raises stroke awareness, and may help save a life through quick action.”