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A stroke left her unable to walk. 9 years later, she’s helping others regain their strength.

Updated: May. 26, 2021 at 11:29 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - When Kristine Phansaithong exercises, she enjoys the control she has over her body. Nine years ago, it was a very different story.

“Everything became numb. Everything became black and I couldn’t get up,” she said.

In the summer of 2012, the married mother of three suffered a massive stroke that affected multiple areas of her brain.

“It was my right cerebellum, partial of my frontal, my occipital, and partial brain stem,” she said.

She underwent emergency brain surgery but the stroke affected her vision, movement, and speech. Her husband and young daughters had to be her hands and feet.

“In terms of feeding me, bathing me, helping me clothe, walk, basically everything,” she said.

Phansaithong didn’t give in or give up. With the help of rehabilitation specialists, therapists and her family, she set off on a long road to recovery.

“They used to weigh my walker with 40 pounds of weight, and I still couldn’t hold it up. So they said, ‘Okay, let’s start from the basics. Let’s start from crawling,’” she said.

Those baby steps turned into bigger strides. She progressed from crawling to standing, walking, and then running. It wasn’t pretty but she was on her way.

“If you’re still mindful of your body, anything is possible,” she said.

Fitness is her foundation.

It’s been nearly a decade since her world came to a screeching halt. She now works with other stroke victims, encouraging them on their journey.

“It makes me feel better. It makes them feel better, to give them hope,” she said. I just tell them it takes time, a lot of patience.’”

May is Stroke Awareness Month. The Hawaii Stroke Coalition reminds everyone to be aware of the signs of a stroke ― face drooping, arm weakness, slurred speech ― and the need to call 911.

“About 80 to 85% of strokes is caused by a clot. If you get to the emergency room within three to four-and-a-half hours, we can give an IV medicine called TPA that will help your outcome,” said neurologist Dr. Todd Devere.

Phansaithong still experiences periodic bouts of fatigue and balance issues, but she’s learned how to compensate.

“I would say nobody could tell the difference. Only I can,” she said, with a chuckle.

Her husband is in the Air Force. The couple is very thankful for the military’s help during her crisis. Her fitness business is called Phoenix Waves LLC.

She said her long road back has taught her to appreciate every move she makes.

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