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Marshelle Samuels is a two-time stroke survivor, looking forward to a life of renewal

Marshelle Samuels experienced the worst headache of her life and came to UI Health with several brain bleeds and paralysis to her right side

After experiencing the worst headache of my life, I arrived unconscious at the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System where I was diagnosed with multiple brain bleeds and paralysis to my right side. My family was told I might not survive the stroke and if I did, I would likely be a vegetable. My second stroke happened five months later and I was again treated at UI Health for a bleed on my optic nerve.

I received wonderful care at UI Health. I relearned activities normally taken for granted, like sitting, standing and walking. The UI rehabilitation staff even taught my loved ones how to help me climb stairs so I could recover at home instead of in a nursing home.

Because of UI Health's comprehensive team of professionals, I'm now out of my wheelchair and using a cane.

My stroke helped me see myself clearly for the first time. I was shocked into realizing the craziness my life had become. It gave me a chance to slow down and strengthen relationships by communicating and spending quality time together.

I never realized how much teamwork UI Health invests in treating patients. They hire people who have exceptional skills as well as compassionate hearts. I always felt valued because the members of my UI healthcare team - rehabilitation and occupational therapists, neurologists, nurses, social workers and a psychologist - took time to answer my questions.

Now I co-lead a stroke support group for UI Health called Living After Stroke that encourages community involvement. Topics for discussion include coping, nutrition and stroke education. We are called champions, not survivors, because we motivate others to achieve something each day.

I believe the Lord used UI Health to save my life and to help me live a life of renewal. I have been allowed to use my deficits and challenges to serve other stroke patients. I will be forever grateful to UI Health.

UI Health has all the pieces - a full circle of support.