Nadine loves motorcycles.
She describes herself as a Jersey girl, highly driven with a kick-ass attitude. Her fast-paced professional life was focused and successful, leaving her little time for personal achievements. Yet despite her career and international travel schedule demanding most of her time, she found a class where she could learn to ride, and a sweet sense of freedom swept over her.
The stress floated away.
Proud, determined, and unafraid to embrace a new adventure, the class’s first few hours were challenging. Sympathetic to her awkwardness but realizing she was struggling, the instructor quietly said to her, “Now, if you think you need to quit, give yourself permission.” Horrified, feeling this man was essentially calling her the ‘loser’ in the class, Nadine reminded herself of a life motto that seems to get her through the tough times: “Just give me a minute, and I’ll be fine.” True to her word, she completed the two-day program successfully.
Still, work and travel continued to take her worldwide, leaving little time for anything personal, including pursuing a motorcycle license. As the months turned into years, she was becoming increasingly burned out and wanted a change. She needed life to be different; More balance, less pressure, and a sense of calm that permeated the soul.
In 2014, the day before flying back home from Amsterdam on business, her world was rocked to her very core, and the change she so desperately wanted was forced upon her when she suffered an ischemic stroke.
The trip had been easy enough, despite some physical challenges common after a long flight. Her ankles were swollen and not going down since she initially arrived in this foreign city. The last night of the trip, they had become so large and uncomfortable she could hardly walk to her room. But meeting her co-workers the next day for breakfast before flying back home, Nadine was confident she would be fine.
However, at 5:30 am, she woke up disoriented and not able to recognize where she was. She slithered from the bed to the floor, not realizing she was paralyzed on the right side of her body and spent the next two hours trying to reach the bathroom while drifting in and out of sleep intermittently.
At 8 am, with no word from Nadine and her absence from breakfast seeming strange, Maddy, her co-worker and friend from the UK, became concerned and had the concierge bring her to Nadine’s hotel room to see if something was amiss.
“Will you just let me in? Open the door. I need to see you.” Maddy pleaded.
Having no idea she was suffering from a severe condition, Nadine’s repeated response was, “Give me a minute; I’ll be fine. I’m fine.”
Maddy’s instincts told her otherwise, so she told the concierge to contact their medical alert team. Rescue crews arrived within minutes, and Nadine was lifted from the 5th story hotel window onto a cherry picker-type ladder into an ambulance and taken to a nearby hospital.
For the next few months, professional agencies, family, and friends supported her every step of the way while she rehabilitated her right side, and even now, as she continues on that long and winding path of recovery.
For Nadine, who was predominately healthy and active at 44 years old, a stroke had never been considered. She was to find out that many factors can contribute, some subtle, some more prominent. Each individual is different, but seemingly common lifestyle issues can potentially contribute to strokes—the pressures of work-related or personal stress, diet, family history, medications, and supplements.
All of these were silent unrelated contributors that added up to a dangerous combination. Recovery, like her life, has been successful, currently at 70% back to where she was before having the stroke. She has been able to find that slower pace and sense of freedom she was craving, although she still struggles with being patient. Patience has always been Nadine’s nemesis, but now it’s coupled with gratitude and positive action. She is reminded every day to be patient with her capabilities and thankful she is still alive to wrestle with such things.
Also, in the last seven years, she’s created boundaries within her work schedule and diet changes, and she views each lifestyle choice as a new beginning, a second chance to accomplish her dreams and desires tucked deep inside.
Big desires and dreams such as authoring and publishing her first book, “Owed to My Mother’ and currently writing her second, which is called “Sperm Donor (and The Gift of a Stroke).”
She joined the Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America 3 years ago and is the “Big” to a little sister named Alana, who has proven to be someone that will be in Nadine’s life for the long haul.
Passionate still to ride a motorcycle, Nadine added a little flair to the request this time. Searching for the perfect bike, she absolutely loves and has her eye on an Arch motorcycle. And as for a teacher to make sure she can still ride? Well, who better than Arch Motorcycle co-founder and actor Keanu Reeves. Go big or go home. Right?!
Yes, Nadine still has that Jersey girl kick-ass drive, and it’s bigger than ever. She’s balanced her personal and professional focus and is living life large.
And whenever things get a little tough, give her a minute, and she’ll be just fine.