Let me introduce you to my high-school sweetheart, my wife of twenty years, my one true love, my soul-mate, Kim Whited. Kim is a forty-something mother of two adolescent boys and beloved kindergarten teacher for nearly 450 sweet little kiddos in her 19 years of teaching. She is the youngest in a family of 14 children (think Brady Bunch here). In the last few years, to her own surprise, she has become a determined runner. “Oh, I’ll never be a runner!” she once said. And now, after September 12th 2016, she is a stroke survivor. Yes, a stroke-survivor. It’s amazing how you can become what you never thought you might be.
While attending a family wedding in northern Michigan in September, Kim decided to take advantage of the beauty around her and go for a 6-mile run before the wedding. She had a great run, but started getting a terrible headache at the reception while the music pounded and the family celebrated. Little did we know that it was the beginning of a stroke caused by a blot clot in a sinus cavity of her brain. By the next day after headaches persisted, we were back home in Indiana at a hospital, where her condition was misdiagnosed - even following a CT scan. “Her brain is fine!” piped the ER doctor following the scan, “She has a severe sinus infection, however.” It wasn’t until the following day, nearly 36 hours after the headache began, that a second hospital correctly identified that she was experiencing a blood clot and a hemorrhage in her brain. Her neurologists told us that this was a rare type of stroke, affecting only 1 in 200,000 people. Kim received treatment for five days in the nuero-intensive care unit at Methodist Hospital, and another two weeks in a regular room and inpatient physical therapy hospital in Indianapolis. At one point during her therapy, Kim had no use of her left arm and was only able to walk a few slow steps at a time, but she was walking, and was eventually able to go home on October 1. Her doctors pointed to the fact that she was a runner and had “strong legs” as providing her a head start on her recovery and physical therapy.
Kim has gradually made slow but significant progress. After many weeks of physical, occupational, and speech therapy, she was able to resume driving in November and return working full time in her Kindergarten class in March. Recently, she has actually started running again. In fact, she completed the 5k at the 500 Festival Mini-Marathon in May and is now turning her sights towards the Monumental Half-Marathon in November. We were planning to run the Monumental for the first time in 2016, and then the stroke happened. Although this 2017 race seems a bit daunting for her at this point, as she considers this challenge she reverts back to a simple mantra that she has relied upon throughout her recovery: “I CAN do hard things!”. She is humbled by the countless people who have called her “inspiring” and who refer to her as a “miracle”. Kim shrugs off the personal credit for her recovery, referring to her strong faith and the unwavering encouragement and prayers from her friends, her school family, her church family, and her enormous biological family.
“Make the most of every day of your life, because you simply don’t know what tomorrow holds for you.” shrugs Kim. “Why not? That’s my new motto. It shouldn’t take a life-threatening medical event to get you to start living right now!”