All posts by allisonoreilly

Wedding Vows

Allison and Kevin taking a walkThis past weekend was our 23rd wedding anniversary. After, 23 years, the celebration is a bit low key, but since my stroke, everyday is a celebration.

You must take your vows seriously. When you say “in sickness and in health” you never know what fate will bring you. I have a wonderful husband and we say “I love you” each day, a few times. He also makes me laugh.

In 1994, the National Health Interview Survey conducted a study on 50,000 households. Out of these households, the ones with spouses that were disabled were much more likely to be divorced or separated (20.7 percent), while only 13.1 percent of the households had been through a divorce without any disability as a factor.

Relationships are important for everyone. Everyone needs to feel loved and valued as a person, and we all need people to talk to and spend time with. Having positive relationships helps people to feel satisfied with their lives and gives people a sense of belonging and self-worth.

After brain injury or stroke, relationships become even more important. Positive relationships can help with recovery in many ways. When people are facing many new challenges, they need to have people they can talk to about their thoughts and feelings. Talking with a spouse, close friend or relative is a great way to cope with and come to accept injury-related changes.  Talk to the important people in your life and find ways to tell them how much they mean to you.

I am grateful for Kevin and our happy marriage. I look forward to many more, healthy, happy years.

Has your relationship been tested by a trauma?

How did you handle it?



People are Good

AllisonPeople are good. I just want to share a recent experience.

Over Labor Day weekend, I was traveling with my husband. We were going through the airport; he was parking the car; I was going through the airport in a wheelchair with an attendant. I showed my license and boarding pass when going through security. I thought I had dropped my license in my purse and would put it back in my wallet when I got to the gate. I searched and search. Retraced my steps (so to speak) and NO license. I thought it was gone forever.

Out of the blue, I got an email that someone found my license and wanted to return it. He found my email on LinkedIn. I told him what gate I was at. I was in a wheelchair and it would be easier for him to come to me.  I came to find out, he sent that email before his plane takeoff and had to power down. We emailed back and forth and he was to mail the license to my home/

The following week, I received a lovely note and my license.

What would you do?

The old saying “Do unto others…” is so true.

Next time you find something belonging to someone else, do the right thing.

Trainer vs Physical Therapy – Mix it up

Allison and Kevin taking a walkI had a trainer for two years and he was great. My goals were stamina, strength and help my balance. He would come over twice a week for one hour. We would use my equipment, do exercises and walk outside (uneven surfaces) I also continued to do pool therapy twice a week.

Starting in May, I went back to physical therapy (pt), not just regular pt, but Neuro PT.  There are less Neurologic Physical Therapists in the U.S.  than you think. The therapists there all came from MedStar National Rehab Hospital (NRH), so have excellent experience.

What is a Neurologic Physical Therapist? A neurologic physical therapist is a physical therapist who specializes in the evaluation and treatment of individuals with movement problems due to disease or injury of the nervous system. These include Alzheimer’s disease, ALS, brain injury, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injury, and stroke.

They do an initial baseline evaluation and an evaluation every 10 visits. This is most helpful, as you can see any progress and it is tangible. They see no end to my progress.

I go to them twice a week for one hour each visit and they have lots of equipment that can be used. They are wonderful and understand how neurological disorders affect movement. They also teach.

I still also do pool therapy twice a week. I think it’s good to mix it up. Every therapist is different, every neurological disorder or disease is different and have different plans for your improvement. So, you are using different muscles.

Do you find doing different therapies has helping in your healing process?


Give Back – It’s easy!

AllisonAs I focus on Stroke, I wanted to share an easy way to give back. It’s the perfect time with back-to-school and fall around the corner.

On Saturday, August 23, 2014, Macy’s will host its 9th annual Shop For A Cause benefiting charities nationwide. Since 2006, Shop For A Cause has raised more than $48 Million for charities across the country. The Stroke Comeback Center is participating.

Buy a Macy’s Savings Pass for $5.00 and when you shop at Macy’s on Saturday, August 23, 2014, you’ll receive 25% off* on regular, sale and clearance merchandise, including designer brands you love, throughout the store, as well as 10% off electronics, furniture, mattresses and area rugs. And, they will be eligible to win a $500 gift card, no purchase necessary.

* Exclusions and restrictions apply. See shopping pass for details.

Help the Stroke Comeback Center and shop, shop, shop!



AllisonWhat is a tool? It is something to help you do something.

When I had my stroke, I was adamant about not having a wheelchair. All my doctors, nurses, family and friends told me it would allow me to do things on my own. I said “no.” Then, I was told I had to get to therapy on my own. Mmmmm. I guess I had to use a wheelchair. I then used the wheelchair to go to Bingo one evening, each week. They were right.

Now, I am walking without a cane, but have a Trendelenburg gait (think Mea West) and furniture walk. When I go to pt therapy, they have me use a cane and I walk fine. Using a cane would allow me the independence I do not have yet, due to my balance or lack there of. I was told it’s just a “tool” until I train my body to walk normal again and then it will go away. Mmmmm.

What tool has helped you?

Would you do it if it gave you freedom?



AllisonFriendship helps heal. Motivation and encouragement is also wonderful. Don’t be afraid of Stroke survivors, they need you more than ever.

Although there are many forms of friendship, some of which may vary from place to place, certain characteristics are present in many types of friendship. Such characteristics include affection, sympathy, empathy, honesty, altruism, mutual understanding and compassion, enjoyment of each other’s company, trust, and the ability to be oneself, express one’s feelings, and make mistakes without fear of judgment from the friend.

Don’t walk away; I am so fortunate, friends before my stroke are still my friends and they treat me the same. They love me, for me.

Do you know someone who has been touched by Stroke? Have you walked towards them or away? Think about how you would want to be treated.

I have heard from people I have not been in touch with in some time. I think my Stroke brought into focus just how fragile life is.



Mark Your Calendars

AllisonI am pleased to be part of the planning committee for this special event celebrating the Stroke Comeback Center’s 10th anniversary.

Please plan to join me in October. Please forward this email to others who should attend & send me the names of other potential supporters & sponsors.

The Center provides stroke rehab services to survivors after their insurance has run out.  We are very lucky to have the Center in our area — there are fewer than 10 in all of the U.S. & Canada!

To learn more about the Stroke Comeback Center visit:  You can call me, or the Center at 703-255-5221 or email: .

See you in October!

Save the Date!

Stroke Comeback Center

10 year Anniversary Celebration

The Art of Communicating

Thursday, October 30, 2014

6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.

USA TODAY Headquarters

7950 Jones Branch Drive, McLean, Virginia

Helping others

AllisonAs a stroke survivor, in my new life, I am hoping to give others  hope. When someone has a stroke, everyone in the family has a stroke. From my book, I have met many people who have reached out. My book hopes to help family/loved ones understand what the stroke/locked-in patient is going through. Every stroke is different and the book is about my recovery. The most important thing you can do is give the patient the best environment to succeed. Be patient though! Believe me, the person wants to recover as much as you want them to recover.

I am also doing marketing/volunteering for stroke groups. I want something good to come of this.

When life changes abruptly you have to adapt. Has this happened to you? What did you do?


I am still progressing

Allison drivingI am still progressing and miss my independence. While I have been approved to drive by the DMV, once you get to your destination you have to walk. My balance is still not good, especially on uneven surfaces. I continue to do therapy (pool and physical) to progress. My therapists have no doubt my balance will come back.

When we travel, I still need a wheelchair to get through the airport. We also get a handicap hotel room when we travel. I long for normalcy.

My husband leaves me alone while at work or when he travels and I treasure time alone.

Friends are very important and give a sense of normalcy. They have been crucial in my recovery.

I miss work a lot, although I have my book and am doing volunteer/marketing on stroke. This is now quite close to my heart.

I know I am lucky to have progressed to where I am, considering where I was. Every stroke and recovery are different. I am not done though, I will regain my independence and get back to as normal a life as possible.





Why am I so focused on getting the word out?

ResizeImageHandler.ashx copyI am so focused on getting out the word on stroke to make something good come from something so terrible. A stroke affects everyone (spouse, family, friends) and you are at a loss of what to do when tragedy strikes. My book details things that we found helpful. Why re-create the wheel? People are overwhelmed with grief, but you need to be strong for the survivor.

I always did volunteer work, but now it’s personal. A stroke is a nightmare and I want to help others avoid or learn to deal with it gracefully. It is a change in your life; one you did not ask for.

Every stroke is different and recovery different. I think my stroke was very surprising to many (I just had a clean bill of health two weeks prior) and if it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone.

Be knowledgeable. I know it’s not an exciting/sexy topic, but one that needs to be addressed. Learn about stroke today and read my book for my story.