October 29, 2023

World Stroke Day

Today we have the privilege of interviewing AmyJo Brey, a stroke survivor whose story embodies the power of perseverance, positivity, and the importance of prevention. Her story is an inspiration to all those on their journey to recovery. Around a year and a half ago, AmyJo found herself facing an unexpected challenge in her 40s, one she never imagined- becoming a stroke victim with only a 30% survival rate. She vividly recalls the moment she woke up in the Intensive Care Unit. Half of her body was paralyzed, and she had an overwhelming fear that she might never regain her ability to walk, care for her family, or perform everyday tasks.

But AmyJo’s story is one of unwavering determination. She refused to let the daunting odds define her fate. Despite the countless obstacles that stood in her way, she declared, “I refused to give up.”  With sheer persistence and a burning desire to recover and return to her cherished normal life with her family and career, AmyJo embarked on a journey of rehabilitation and healing. Supported by exceptional physical therapists, a dedicated medical staff, her colleagues, and the unconditional love of her family, AmyJo has made remarkable progress. Today, she joyfully shares, “I am thrilled to report that I am almost 85% physically and mentally recovered.”

AmyJo's advice is a beacon of wisdom and inspiration. She urges us all to never hesitate to reach out to loved ones or seek help when needed. “It is important to reach out to loved ones or anyone you feel comfortable with when you need assistance,” she emphasizes. She also reminds us of the significance of celebrating the small victories on the path to recovery. “Recovery is not always a linear journey,” AmyJo notes. “There may be setbacks along the way, but it is important to recognize and celebrate the small victories that come with progress. Take the time to acknowledge accomplishments.”

AmyJo emphasizes the importance of listening to our bodies, saying, “Your body often sends signals that should not be ignored.” She encourages us to pay attention to signs such as persistent headaches and take the time to monitor vital health indicators like blood pressure, cholesterol, and stress levels. “Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help keep these issues in check, and preventative care with your physician can detect health conditions before they become bigger problems,” she advises.

Perhaps the most poignant message AmyJo shares with us today is the reminder to cherish every moment with our loved ones and to live life to the fullest. “Live a fulfilling life full of fun. Be kind, take risks, and seek adventures whenever possible,” she urges. “Remember, we only have one life to live.”

Amy would like to give special thanks to the providers who worked diligently to restore her health: Beth C Stepanczuk, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation; Kathryn E Cheponis, Neurology; Yevgeniy Isayev, Neurology; Samantha Kauffman, Occupational Therapy (OT); Samantha Curvey, OT; Alyssa Hauck, Physical Therapy (PT); Angela Villalba, PT; Megan Kohler, PT; Hazel Falmarin, PT; All the therapists and nurses on the 7th floor at LVHN Cedar Crest; and finally to all her attending ICU nurses. She would also like to highlight the ESKO bionics suit for aiding her incredible progress.

AmyJo Brey’s story is an embodiment of hope and resilience, and her message is a call to action for us all- to persevere, stay positive, and prioritize prevention in our lives. Her journey is a testament to her capacity to overcome adversity, and her words serve as a source of inspiration for us all.