• By Dana Sparks

Sharing Mayo Clinic: Former Soldier, Stroke Survivor Tells of Life Punctuated by Commas

July 4, 2016

a soldier salutely at sunset with the United States flag superimposed over the photo

This story originally appeared on the Sharing Mayo Clinic blog.

When stroke survivor R. Brady Johnson first visited Mayo Clinic nearly nine years ago, his doctors didn't quite know what to make of him. Not only was his stroke, at age 31, unusual, but his post-stroke physicality surprised the team of neurologists he'd come to see.

It had been just over a year since Brady, who lives in Belvedere, Illinois, had a major stroke during a surgery to mitigate a cerebral hemorrhage. The stroke cost him the sensation in his right side, the ability to speak, to run, and a litany of other abilities. Yet, in the time between the stroke and visiting Mayo, the former senior airman for the U.S. Air Force and marathon runner had managed to coax his body to do things that his rehabilitation team initially said would be impossible.

"I got the nickname 'The Freak' because when the doctors saw me, I did push-ups for them, and they couldn't understand my build. They couldn't understand how I could do push-ups," Brady says. "They'd never seen anybody like me."

Brady repeatedly defied the odds during his recovery from his stroke. But he found himself powerless to stop the searing pain that took root in his head. Read the rest of Brady's story.