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From Cubs to Comeback

Posted by Lynn Bronikowski May 02 2017

Stroke survivor Liz Coughlin reached two milestones in 2016—visiting Wrigley Field to see her beloved Chicago Cubs in the World Series, and walking the National Stroke Association’s Comeback Trail 5K in New York.

Now she has set her sights on walking the Comeback Trail 5K in Chicago on June 3—the National Stroke Association’s first-time event in the Windy City.

“I started going to Cubs games when I was a kid so being in Wrigley Field was a huge thing and doing the Comeback Trail 5K was a great event,” said Coughlin, a Chicago native. “I was at Wrigley Field on Oct. 29 which happens to be World Stroke Day. I consider getting to Wrigley Field by myself during the World Series a real milestone. I couldn’t make it past the fifth inning but I did it.”

Coughlin, who experienced a stroke on Dec. 10, 2012 at age 57, and her husband, Terry Kennedy, walked the Comeback Trail at Jones Beach State Park in Long Island last fall while visiting his family. Her brother-in-law, his wife, and their younger son also walked.

“It wasn’t so much doing the walking itself because Terry and I walk a lot but it was the whole experience of being there and seeing the support for stroke survivors,” said Coughlin.

Coughlin has come a long way since experiencing a stroke overnight and waking up to weakness on her right side.  Her husband took her to the emergency room but it was too late to administer tPA, the clot-busting drug.

“In those first two months I had dramatic improvement. The droopiness in my face got better and I was able to raise my right arm eventually,” said Coughlin. “Pushing myself was huge in my recovery.”

By May 2013, she returned to work as program director for the University Center for Writing-based Learning at DePaul University, a busy place that schedules more than 10,000 appointments a year.

“My colleagues really supported me but it was very stressful and exhausting,” said Coughlin. “By the time I got home at the end of the day, there was nothing left of me. After a stroke, there’s a level of exhaustion that’s different than anything else.”

She cut her hours by 20 percent and ultimately retired in August 2016 after 37 years.

“I had incredible care and support from everyone at the hospital, in rehab and at work,” said Coughlin. “I have the best husband, family and friends in the world.”

While in the hospital, a stroke survivor visited her “to share some words of support. When I’m up to it, I hope to find ways to give back and be connected to the network of stroke survivors—whether it’s fundraising, research, visiting support groups or playing a part in raising awareness about stroke.”

The National Stroke Association’s Comeback Trail run/walk is approximately 5K and will begin at 9 a.m. on June 3 at DuSable Harbor in downtown Chicago. For information and to register visit www.comebacktrail.org.
 

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