Athlete Update – Rachel Keele

Rachel Keele

This has been a craaaazy six months for me! I found out I had been selected as a T2T athlete on March 25, three days after I experienced an ischemic stroke that put me in the hospital. The next month was filled with CT scans, neurology appointments, physical therapy, medications, crazy headaches, and lots of sleep. For a while, even sitting in front of the TV was exhausting.

As my energy returned, I was able to get back to my CrossFit box (my second home). Prior to my stroke, I was coaching and working out 6 days a week. It was hard to watch other people progress while it often felt like I was moving backwards. There were many tears of frustration, but everyone was so supportive, and by June I was able to do light workouts two or three times a week.

After an OK from my neurologist, I was able to start lifting light weights again. I put myself on a plan to increase my strength load by about 5% each week, and as I felt better, I increased my intensity as well. This process has felt painfully slow at times, but it paid off. Last week I was able to do a snatch (an Olympic weight lifting movement) at 105lbs. This isn’t a lot for many people, but it was my previous (before my stroke) 1-rep max, which was very exciting!

I still have trouble with certain things: double vision in my left eye, some loss of balance, occasional vertigo, loss of feeling in the fingers on my left hand, dry eye, headaches, etc. Some things I’ve chosen not to do since my stroke, like being upside down (I used to love to do handstands, but falling out of a handstand pinched my artery shut, causing the stroke). And some things I will probably never do again, like ride a roller coaster or go snowboarding, as these could result in whip lash and trigger the same type of stroke I had.

But I feel so good and so blessed! Besides my stroke recovery these last few months, I turned 30, started a new job, finished my master’s degree, got a new car and went to the CrossFit Games with my amazing husband. It’s been an incredible six months in many ways and I’m looking forward to what the rest of the year holds!

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