Story by: Sara Sidery on January 25, 2023
Life can change in a single moment, and Christine Cosby-Gaither of Louisville never expected what would happen to her at just age 35.“I had a massive stroke on Jan. 28, 2019, at 4:45 a.m.,” she said. “I literally became a new person.”Christine was hospitalized, needed a breathing tube and remained in a coma for several days. Due to the stroke, she had lost her ability to swallow.
“When I was in the hospital, one of the things I always wanted to know is, who can I talk to? Who would understand what I’m thinking? Who would understand my feelings? I’m blind; I was paralyzed. I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t talk,” Christine said.“I immediately thought, why me? At the time, my baby was only 2, and my husband — we’d only been married four years. And I’m like, ‘Wow, already this is the end.’”But, it wasn’t the end. Christine began to make a slow but miraculous recovery. During this time, she started searching for a community — anyone who might be in a similar stage in life and could understand what she was going through. She didn’t know anyone locally, so she turned to social media, searching for other young stroke survivors on Instagram.
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“I discovered that there was this whole community out there. These people were all over the world, but there was not anyone where I could pick up the phone and I could call. And I always asked why. So I said, ‘You know what? I’m going to create something. I want to create something for people that I wish I would’ve had.’”Christine created A Stroke of Grace, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit to support other stroke survivors. The organization offers virtual support groups twice a month along with education and awareness for stroke prevention.
“Once I started taking my problems off of me and started thinking about how I could help someone else, immediately, I started getting better,” she said.
To support as many stroke survivors as possible, both in Louisville and across the country, Christine teamed up with Rosa Hart, BSN, R.N., SCRN, the stroke nurse navigator with Norton Neuroscience Institute Resource Center. The Center supports stroke patients and their families with appointments and connects them to free resources within Norton Neuroscience Institute and in the community, including educational, therapeutic and exercise classes, plus nutritional counseling and in-person and virtual support groups.
“I am so passionate about stroke care because I have seen such great things happen,” Rosa said. “That gives me hope that even though I have seen really bad things happen, I also know that if we keep trying, we will see more of those miraculous outcomes.”Rosa and Christine met through volunteer work and immediately recognized each other’s passion for helping others with stroke prevention and recognizing the signs and symptoms.
“We wanted to team up to get the message out about how to prevent stroke and address it as well as how to help people who have experienced stroke to have the best outcome and quality of life as possible,” Rosa said.According to Christine, Norton Neuroscience Institute and Norton Neuroscience Institute Resource Center offers something more to its patients — and that is hope. “It is so rich with all the information, everything that it can do to help you, to support you, to encourage you. It’s almost like it gives you a big hug,” Christine said. “It tells you that, ‘We’re here to support you, and we’re always going to be with you throughout this journey.’”
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