Stroke Survivor Uses Her Experience to Help Others Through Support Program
Five years ago, Sandi Gruhot was doing yard work when she started feeling a pain in the back of her neck and got nauseous
FARGO, N.D. — It’s something hundreds of thousands of people suffer from every year: stroke.
One survivor is using her experience to support others going through the same thing.
Five years ago, Sandi Gruhot was doing yard work when she started feeling a pain in the back of her neck and got nauseous.
What she thought was pulled muscle was actually a lot more serious.
“I was only 57 at the time. I was like too young for that, that’s what happens to older people and not me,” she said.
She had suffered from a stroke, completely unexpected as she was in overall good health and had no warning signs.
She was in the hospital for almost two weeks.
“When the doctor came in and told me I had this, subarachnoid hemorrhage, I said, ‘no, you’re kidding.’ But a doctor wouldn’t really kid you about that,” she said.
And so began a recovery process that can be difficult.
“Sometimes there’s like a fog that comes over my head and it’s just very difficult to concentrate during those times,” she said.
That’s where the Stroke Survivor to Survivor program comes in.
Sandi is the North Dakota program coordinator, and volunteers call stroke survivors to offer them support.
“When people say something it’s like, ‘oh I had that too.’ But I didn’t know anybody else had that. You think you’re the only one experiencing that,” she said.
The program is in six hospitals across the state of North Dakota in Fargo, Grand Forks, Bismarck, and Minot.
It’s also developing a resource list to help survivors with transportation, meals, and support groups.
Sandi says most survivors are concerned about getting back to normal life and getting over fatigue.
“Survivors we talk to say they’re appreciative of our support. Some of the caregivers are so overwhelmed. It’s a change in everyone’s life. They’re appreciative of just a little call,” she said.
Those calls have made Sandi realize that using her experience help others is what she was meant to do.
“Everyone has to find their own purpose. For me there were dark days where I was like, ‘okay God you spared me for a reason,’ so what is that reason, finding a purpose in life. I feel my purpose is providing stroke education and support,” she said.
That’s fulfilling her belief that each person will be remembered for how they treated those around them.
Sandi says she still experiences fogginess and headaches but has accepted that this is her new norm.
If you would like more information on the survivor to survivor program, you can contact the N.D. mission Lifeline Stroke Director, Janna Pietrzak at Janna.firstname.lastname@example.org.