In November 2017, Ashanti Coleman, a healthy and active wife and mother in her 30s, began exhibiting the classic signs of a stroke. In the emergency room, she learned it was caused by a blood clot and spent another couple of weeks in the hospital being closely monitored and recovering.

Ashanti returned home for Thanksgiving and dove right into physical therapy and speech therapy to help with facial drooping. By January, she had regained full strength of her hand, but her speech was still a little off.

“As with other stroke survivors, I developed an accent from my tongue overcompensating,” she says. It had caused her to speak with a Jamaican accent. Only after two more months of therapy did she feel comfortable speaking in front of people.

Ten months after her stroke, Ashanti is 95% recovered. “If you didn’t know me prior to my stroke, you would likely never know what I went through,” she says.

She was cleared to go back to yoga, weight training, and running earlier this year. She also returned to coaching track at Collierville SYS. She’s been more dedicated than ever to maintaining a healthy routine.

“I’m thankful that I had been leading a healthy lifestyle prior to my stroke because it helped me fully recover and do so more quickly,” Ashanti says. “As a nurse practitioner, I always have the mindset that if I’m asking my patients to make healthy lifestyle choices, then I need to lead by example.”

Ashanti’s family and friends were incredibly supportive during her recovery. “My husband and kids would help me tie my shoes, button my shirts, and do other things that I could not do on my own. Seeing their mother go through this has shown them how important it is to continue to be active in sports and other physical activities.”

Because Ashanti was in great physical health, doctors attributed her blood clot and stroke to a new birth control medication she had begun the month prior.

“I caution my patients to be more aware of what birth control they’re taking and educate them on the risks. Birth control with estrogen increases the risk for clot and stroke, so I’m sure to discuss their risk factors such as diabetes, smoking, etc.” Since her incident, Ashanti has taken every opportunity to advocate and tell her story about being a young stroke survivor.

By Christin Yates

Photo by Tindall Stephens