Thursday, August 21, 2014

Alumna to hold book signing

Stroke survivor, author Delanie Stephenson details her miraculous recovery in “The Calm Before the Storm”

Delanie Stephenson had just returned home when it started to happen. She had just begun to clean out her van when she became extremely nauseated, and the headache she had fought for almost a week prior began to intensify. Then her heart began to beat faster, and the left side of her body fell numb. That was when she knew — she was having a stroke.

Fortunately for Stephenson, a 2000 graduate of Liberty University, her husband was already on his way home. After a rushed trip to the hospital, Stephenson found herself unable to speak or move.

“When I got to the hospital … it was like the TV show, ‘ER,’” Stephenson said. “They were just rushing me down the hall.”

Stephenson later learned she had suffered a stroke in her brain stem. As she sat in a hospital bed, unable to participate in conversations happening around her about whether or not she would survive, let alone walk or talk again, she said her relationship grew stronger with the only one she could talk to — God.

“Without God putting his hand on me, without my family praying, my friends praying, … I really shouldn’t be here right now,” Stephenson said. “I’ve always been somebody who is a believer, but I definitely grew closer to God through all of this.”

Her sister, Karen Beatty, was still recovering from her 2011 stroke when Stephenson suffered hers in June 2012 at the age of 33. Beatty’s happened as a complication from surgery at the age of 29.

“We were basically used to normal life with a stroke patient, and all of a sudden, I had a stroke out of the blue,” Stephenson said.

Now, Stephenson’s family had to pull together and support her as she relearned how to walk, talk and do many other supposedly simple things. If there was a bright side to her stroke, she said her relationships with her husband, her two children, her in-laws and her entire family were all strengthened because of their willingness to help her through her difficult recovery.

“Normal life wasn’t exactly normal anymore,” Stephenson said. “It’s just amazing how many things we take for granted that we do on a daily basis.”

It took her more than a month in the hospital and a rehabilitation facility in addition to two months of outpatient rehabilitation to be able to carry on with normal life again. Although she still suffers from long-term effects of her stroke that make it harder to speak and slow down her mental capacities, she considers herself “one of the lucky ones.”

According to Stephenson, a history major in college who became a teacher soon after graduation, the idea of writing a book had always been of interest to her. Not long after her stroke, she had made up her mind to turn a negative situation into a positive. She wrote a book that details her stroke and the hardships she endured in hopes of encouraging both stroke victims and the people close to them.

“It’s so important to let others know some of the thoughts, some of the fears, some of the things that I’m going through, and I wanted to help and give hope to as many people as possible,” Stephenson said.

According to Stephenson, she finally returned home at the end of August 2012, and by October, she had begun writing her book. “The Calm Before the Storm: A Stroke Survivor’s Story” was released June 2013, a little more than a year after her stroke.

“It’s very, very, very important that people take care of themselves, educate themselves about strokes, know the warning signs and don’t think that you’re untouchable,” Stephenson said.

Stephenson now lives in Hopewell, Va., but she will return to Lynchburg for book signings at the Liberty Barnes & Noble College Bookstore Feb. 8 from 1-3 p.m. and at the Liberty Bookstore’s satellite location in Thomas Road Baptist Church Feb. 9 at 12 p.m.

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