Thursday, February 2, 2012

365 Days & Stroke Free

A year ago today my husband had a stroke. Actually, he had two. He was 42 and I was 31.

I suppose I should say, though I am not sure it matters, that Rob, my husband, is an athlete. He has a resting heart rate of 50 to 60/per minute and very low blood pressure. He has no family history of stroke or any genetic mutations that can increase risk for stroke. His cholesterol is low (shockingly low).

The stroke just happened. And it put a bend in the road so sharp for a long time we couldn’t see the path ahead.

While I don't have the writing skills to capture how terrifying this experience was - we were luckier than we could have imagined. Rob has recovered beautifully. Though he is still working on his rehab - he able to enjoy life and do all that he loves. I believe that he has himself to thank for his recovery. He worked so hard and embraced this challenge with an open heart and great spirit. One day after the stroke I found Rob doing yoga in his hospital bed, already focused on getting better. Four days after the stroke, Rob had himself on his indoor bike trainer (see below) slowly moving the pedals.


It should be said right away that Rob and I owe our survivals to our mothers, Nancy Rees and Mary Burgholzer. Both found the strength to bravely put their pain to the side to help their children. I couldn't begin to count all the ways that they have supported us, helped us find our way. So, I will just say that we wouldn't be here without their love and support.

Looking back I see that we had the good fortune to be able to pair our recovery with several wonderful and tasty adventures.

  • At Rob's insistence, we kept our reservations at Volt scheduled for just weeks after his stroke. This is Bryan Voltaggio's restaurant, of Top Chef fame, located in Frederick, MD. We had lovely lunch with my folks. And, though I didn't know it at the time, it was just what we needed.
  • I joined the Richmond Food Collective! I feel so fortunate to have met these beautiful, generous, smart women....and even luckier to count them as friends.
  • Gardening really was key part of Rob's recovery. This year we enjoyed tons garlic, beautiful cabbages, more eggplant than we ever knew what to do with. And lots of peppers! Here are just a few pics of the delicious things Rob grew this year.

  • We traveled to France and Belgium. This, planned way before the stroke, was a two week vacation. That we were able to go (at all) was a amazing. We biked for a week through Alsace, France.

These, of course, were the larger moments of 2011. But, I must say, the quiet moments were just as precious, perhaps even more so. Going on walks, sitting on the couch, making dinner together...

To celebrate the end of this chapter, Rob and I are going to enjoy doing things he couldn't do a year ago: take a walk through the museum and enjoy a delicious meal. We will take a deep breath, toast the end of this chapter, and happily set out to begin the next.

In closing, to our family and friends, we love you and thank you from the very bottom of our hearts.

Drawn by Rob, 2/11/11


  1. So so beautiful Rachel, thank you for sharing your story. What a journey, you've certainly earned a celebration, enjoy each other today!

  2. The support and love you give each other is better medicine then anything! Have a wonderful celebration day.

  3. Beautiful! You're both such an inspiration. Let's do pancakes and kimchi again sometime soon! xxoo

  4. Congrats, congrats to you both.

  5. Happy Anniversary!!! I hope you and Rob do something fantastic to celebrate the amazing love you have! Congrats...I couldn't be happier for you! xoxo

  6. :) wow -- Rachel you rock..