In 2002, Leean Hendrix was on top of the world. The 26-year old former Miss Arizona was confident, ready to take on any challenge. That all changed when a stroke robbed her of movement on one side of her body, stripped away her self-confidence and erased her memory. “It was like the muscles behind my...read the rest
In 2002, Leean Hendrix was on top of the world. The 26-year old former Miss Arizona was confident, ready to take on any challenge. That all changed when a stroke robbed her of movement on one side of her body, stripped away her self-confidence and erased her memory. “It was like the muscles behind my eyes had broken,” Hendrix explained. “It’s not even a dizziness. It’s almost like I didn’t have any control over my eyes.” Leean knew she was having a stoke as she viewed the entire right side of her body drooping and lifeless.
Leean spent six hours at a Phoenix’ hospital floating in and out of consciousness as medical teams tried to diagnose her problem. She tried to convince doctors and nurses that she had experienced a stroke. Instead she was asked repeatedly what type of drugs she had taken. Leean tried to explain that she was Miss Arizona and had never used drugs or alcohol. Days passed and she was transferred to a neurological institute where an expert identified her stroke and began treatment. Had she gotten tPA (medication) in the first three hours she probably would have walked out of the hospital a day or two later. Instead, she went home after a week, an invalid confined to a wheelchair, unable to feed or bathe herself or use the bathroom unattended, communicating only in baby talk.
It took a year from Leean to regain the use of her right side. She had to re-learn to walk and even how to brush her own hair. Leean continues to suffer headaches and both long and short-term memory loss. She was a singer and loved to be on stage and yet her goals of past are far different from her goals today. While she has had struggles since her stroke, she isn’t bitter or resentful. Instead she uses her story to educate and inspire and is a positive force helping other stroke survivors by sharing information. Her story has been featured on Larry King Live, NBC’s Today Show, Ladies Home Journal, LA Times, among others.
Leean’s experience shows why associations and volunteers across American are advocating for more research, education and screening to help prevent and cure heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases.read less