In Brain & Life, actress Sharon Stone describes her struggle to overcome aphasia after a near-fatal brain hemorrhage. In 2001, Stone noticed the first symptoms of a stroke while at home. Suddenly, a “lightning bolt” of pain shot through her head, knocking her unconscious. When she woke, she had a headache and felt confused. Symptoms spiraled, with numbness in her leg and foot, inability to speak, and profound confusion. In her confused mental state, Stone didn’t think to call 911, and did not get to the hospital until three days later.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), stroke is a major cause of disability in women and the third leading cause of death for women in the United States. Recovery options are still limited, but there were none in 2001, says Brain & Life. With fierce determination, Stone took responsibility for engineering her own recovery. She quit drinking, ate healthier, exercised, and meditated. She describes her recovery as hell, but she came out on the other side with a positive outlook.
Now, Stone is a key advocate for stroke awareness. Stone told the National Aphasia Association (NAA), “I became more emotionally intelligent. I chose to work very hard to open up other parts of my mind. Now I’m stronger. And I can be abrasively direct. That scares people, but I think that’s not my problem … It’s like, I have brain damage; you’ll just have to deal with it.”