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“You have to maintain your faith no matter what happens; never underestimate the strength that you have in yourself,” says Katie Brooks.

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Katie Brooks, 36

In the game of surviving cardiovas-cular injury, mindset is absolutely critical to being able to handle the stress that comes with life-threat-ening cardiac events. For Katie Brooks, a mindset focused on incremental positive improvement is essential to her overall well being, because at age 35, she suf-fered a dissected artery as a result of a chiropractic adjustment. That dissection led to a stroke that kept Katie in the hospital for a month during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I thought I had a pinched nerve, so I went and sought help from a chiropractor,” she says. X rays showed she had back and neck alignment issues. When she had her second alignment, she immediately knew something was wrong. “My brain felt like it was on fire. It was the most intense pain I’d ever been in in my life,” she says. “My right side slumped, and I started drooling on myself.”

She was taken by ambulance to UofL Hospital, where she was given a clot buster drug. “The right side of my body wouldn’t move. Within an hour, I remember being able to slightly move my fingers,” she says. Still, the stroke had impacted her to the point that she had difficulty walking, talking, and swallowing; she still requires speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy multiple times a week. As a result of the stroke, Katie says she has developed a series of medical con-ditions that have required several return trips to the hospital.

Prior to her stroke, she was in good physi-cal condition and had been a caregiver for veterans, but that has become impossible at this point. “The roles have switched,” Katie says. Still, she says, despite the neg-ative life-altering effects of her stroke, she has also become empowered. “I had to dig deep in myself,” she says.

As a single mom to three children, she has had to rely more on her 18-year-old son, Kevon, for the care of his siblings, 10-year-old Kiss and 4-year-old Kasey. “[He] has been my backbone,” she says. “He’s been the person who takes care of everything that I can’t right now. I hate putting all the responsibility on him. At first, I could afford to have caregivers here, and I did, but after all these months, your savings run out,” she says.

Most people recognize that life can change on a dime, but Katie gets this in a way most others don’t. “You have to maintain your faith no matter what happens; never underestimate the strength that you have in yourself,” she says. Before this happened, she had a lot on her plate as a business owner and single mother, but despite her physical limitations now, her spirit remains the same. “You feel like a lot of things have been taken from you. But who I am wasn’t,” she says. She knows she has come a long way from when she was first rushed to the hospital less than a year ago.

P.S. Read about more women who faced unexpected heart ailments head-on.

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