Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

NPR Story Helps Listener Realize She Was Having A Stroke


Now as 2016 draws to a close, we're revisiting some of the people we met this year. And NPR's Rae Ellen Bichell checks back with a man who survived a stroke in his 40s and also a listener who heard his story.

RAE ELLEN BICHELL, BYLINE: Back in February, I reported a story about strokes increasing in adults under 50. Troy Hodge, a 43-year-old man living in Maryland, shared his story about having a stroke two years earlier.


TROY HODGE: I remember setting myself on the floor because I was really hot. And I wanted to get some water to splash on my face.

BICHELL: When the story aired on MORNING EDITION, the radio waves carried Hodge's voice into the home of Sue Bryson, a teacher in Virginia.

SUE BRYSON: It was just a normal Monday morning and I was just getting ready for work and I was listening to NPR.

BICHELL: Listening to Hodge's story, Bryson realized that right then, she was having similar symptoms, that she was having a stroke. So she called her neighbors and they took her to the emergency room.

BRYSON: I would have never gone to the hospital if I didn't hear your show - never.

BICHELL: Bryson is now back in the classroom and Hodge has made some changes. He moved into a bigger apartment. He walks up a flight of stairs each day without his cane to check the mail. He sometimes forgets things.

HODGE: Memory's not too bad, I mean, it's...


HODGE: ...Stop it, Dexter (ph) - yeah, I got a cat. Her name is Dexter. She's gray and white. She's a calico. She's good company.

BICHELL: He's still struggling with a stiff leg and a hand that stays curled into a fist. Things would be a lot easier if he got a helper to come to his home, but he does not want one.

HODGE: No, I don't want one.

BICHELL: Because three years ago when he had his stroke, a doctor told Hodge that he'd never be able to work, drive or live on his own again.

HODGE: I said, what are you talking about? I said, I've been on my own since I was 19. So I kind of want to prove him wrong so I can go back one day and let him know exactly what I accomplished.

BICHELL: Getting his driver's license is at the top of his spring 2017 to-do list. And Hodge says he really wants a part-time job.

HODGE: I'm great for answering the phone, greeting people, talking to people. I'm really good at that. I'm just - I'm looking for something to do and not waste away.

BICHELL: He's hoping a job will come through in the New Year. In the meantime, one thing he is happy about is that by sharing his story, he helped someone else - Sue Bryson.

BRYSON: I feel like I've got my life back.

HODGE: Yeah, it's awesome. That was great.

BICHELL: Rae Ellen Bichell, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Rae Ellen Bichell is a reporter for NPR's Science Desk. She first came to NPR in 2013 as a Kroc fellow and has since reported Web and radio stories on biomedical research, global health, and basic science. She won a 2016 Michael E. DeBakey Journalism Award from the Foundation for Biomedical Research. After graduating from Yale University, she spent two years in Helsinki, Finland, as a freelance reporter and Fulbright grantee.