Stroke Survivor Speaks Out

- CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Many people in the United States know someone who has been affected by a stroke, and this month is a time to spread awareness about how to prevent it and how to recover from it.

Last November, Mark Ritchey was getting ready for work and noticed the left side of his body was in pain.

“My wife noticed that my face started to drop a little, and it was hard to talk and I said I was dizzy; so she recognized right away it was a stroke," said Ritchey. 

The stroke left his left side numb and since that day, he has been pushing his body and mind to get back to normal.

"One of the hardest things that people struggle with is knowing that they do have the opportunity to recover," said Chris Parker, occupational therapist Chambersburg hospital. “With their hard work and it is hard work, its not for the faint of heart, it is for somebody that needs to motivate themselves to make improvements but they can make improvements."

According to the CDC, stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States and the leading cause of serious long term disability. 

Mark knows he was lucky to not only be alive but regain his normal functions.

"I can do pretty much anything that I could do before, maybe not quite as fast as I use to," said Ritchey.

It includes reaching a major goal of restoring the one car that he left unfinished before his stroke.

“It belonged to a man that died of cancer and his father in law found the car that he had when he was in school," said Ritchey. "I was restoring it to the same it was when his dad had it; that was an important thing for me to be able to get back and finish it."

"His son took his girlfriend to the prom last week in the same car that his dad to his girlfriend to the prom in and it got done just in time," said Ritchey.

Mark knows that his recovery is a life long experience as he works everyday, to prevent the stroke from ever happening again.

"I would say one of the biggest things is diet and the medication that I am on for blood pressure and things; I take them everyday, something I will take for the rest of my life," said Ritchey. "It’s too hard to do it again; I don't want to do it again."

The Chambersburg Hospital will host a stroke risks seminar on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. at the hospital. Information on the seminar can be found here

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