Previous healthy lifestyle helping stroke survivor's recovery

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) - Forty-six-year-old Rob Rawlings experienced a stroke just over five months ago now. It happened in his brain stem which has an 85 percent death or paralysis rate. 

However, Rob beat the odds and is making it his mission to get back to doing what he knows is possible.

"I had no idea he was having a stroke until we got to the hospital," says Donya, Rob's wife.

A series of headaches, dizziness, and slurred speech were what prompted Donya to get him to the hospital.  

There, they found what was likely causing Rob's symptoms.

"They said they thought he would have a stroke and where it was he would probably die," says Donya.

After a series of angiograms, MRIs, and Heparain to try and keep his blood flowing, Rob did have a stroke.  

But not with the outcome many expected.

The stroke affected Rob's speech, and the right side of his body.  

It didn't affect his left side or his cognition, and it most definitely didn't affect his sense of humor.

"She got in his face and put fingers up and asked how many?  He goes five. You see five fingers?  No, I see three. You have five," laughs Donya.

Since then, Rob has been a faithful rehab patient doing whatever doctors and therapists tell him will help him get better.  

He can now walk on his own and his speech has returned.

"I still know what I've done," explains Rob. "I can get a drink, go upstairs, hit a golf ball, but my body won't let me. Hardest part is waking up and all that is gone."

Rob had a healthy lifestyle, exercised regularly and didn't have any heart issues in his health history.  

His doctors are now trying to figure out why this stroke happened in the first place with genetic testing, heart testing and a loop recorder that will record his heart activity for the next three years.  

But, they may still never know.  

They do know his previous healthy lifestyle wasn't a waste.

"Rob was in such good shape, strong, his outcome is better and will keep getting better because of those things," says Donya.

Rob is also making the most of his time at home working on the exercises his physical therapist recommends and credits that as another factor that's helping him recover so quickly.  

Rob and his family will all be out participating in this year's Wichita Heart Walk and F.A.S.T. 5K. They encourage you to join them.  

It's June 9 and we'll tell you more about the event as it gets closer on KSN.

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