When Patty Jackson fell while walking between her house and garage, she knew something was wrong - but she got up and kept going. That's just the way she is.
The WDAS radio personality, 52, had been working seven days a week, raising a 14-year-old son and caring for her mother, who had passed away two weeks earlier after an ever deepening struggle with Alzheimer's.
Two days after she fell, Jackson made her way to her doctor's office. She was sent to the hospital (although not before stopping home to ensure her son was OK.)
"I had a stroke," she says. "I'm so busy, I didn't realize it. I was ignoring it until I couldn't."
After being admitted to the hospital, her condition worsened. She couldn't walk. Couldn't see straight. Her right side gave out.
"Each day it got worse," she says. "They said, 'You've had a mild stroke,' but it was major to me because it really knocked me out. It was difficult. I cried a lot. It was humbling in many ways; I couldn't walk and needed help just to wash myself."
From the hospital, she was released to MossRehab for three weeks of inpatient rehabilitation, beginning the process of getting back on her feet. Through physical, occupational and speech therapy coupled with nutritional counseling, the doctors and therapists at MossRehab pushed her where she needed to go.
"I WANTED MY LIFE BACK. THAT'S ALL I THOUGHT ABOUT. SO, EVERYTHING THEY SAID TO DO, I DID. IT GAVE ME HOPE."
"They were friendly, but they were not going to let me give up," she says. They told her she would walk again.
"I wanted my life back," she says. "That's all I thought about. So, everything they said to do, I did. It gave me hope. I had to learn how to enjoy the process - whether it's good, whether it's bad, whether it's painful."
Three months after her stroke, Jackson was back on the air.
"I was so happy," she says. "It was the best therapy ever for me to get right back to work. I needed to go back to work. To bring joy into somebody else's life - this is what I love to do."
From time to time, Jackson still wears a brace on her right leg, but she is back with her son and the cooking that she loves. She says the stroke taught her a key lesson, which she has been sharing with friends and family and her radio audience.
"Pay attention to signs when something is wrong," she says. "Don't wait. Don't keep going. Stop and say, 'Hey, I think something is wrong.' I didn't take care of myself. I neglected me. You can't help anybody else if you don't take care of yourself."