Being a Health Advocate: Alyson McCord

Attorney Encourages Others to “Be an Advocate for Your Health”

Alyson McCord

Louisiana attorney Alyson McCord knows how to advocate for her clients. But a debilitating stroke nearly deprived her of the ability to speak for herself. After struggling for years to keep her high blood pressure under control, Alyson suffered a series of transient ischemic attacks (TIAs), or “mini-strokes,” in 2016. The first occurred just after she and her then-5-year-old daughter Aria Joy returned home after dinner.

“I lost all ability to function on my right side. I slumped to the floor,” says Alyson, of Baton Rouge. Her mobility returned quickly, and Alyson dismissed the incident. “I just thought that I was exhausted. I went to sleep.” The next day, she experienced something similar. While talking with her daughter, she suddenly found herself unable to respond to the girl’s questions. Aria Joy called Alyson’s mother, who dialed 9-1-1 immediately.

Alyson was taken to the hospital and was eventually transferred to a hospital in New Orleans, where doctors performed an angiogram, a type of x-ray used to detect blockages in a person’s arteries, then removed a blood clot from an artery that brings blood to her brain. They later implanted a stent, which is a tiny tube that props the artery open.

“Eat healthy. Exercise. Drink [alcohol] less often and quit smoking. You have to be an advocate for your health . . . . My daughter was my inspiration. I tried so hard for her.”

—Alyson McCord, stroke survivor

Once she returned home, with medication and advice to follow a low-salt diet, Alyson started working to lower her blood pressure and scheduled a visit with a new doctor. But she continued to have complications and suffered another stroke, she said. After some time, she was able to begin her journey to recovery. Alyson received a month of inpatient rehabilitation therapy at the Baton Rouge NeuroMedical Center, where she says she often felt frustrated and depressed. When she was disheartened, she would look at a photo of Aria Joy: exactly the motivation she needed. “Aria Joy was my inspiration,” she says. “I tried so hard for her.”

Alyson says the day of her stroke was “one of the worst days—and the best day” of her life. Since her stroke, Alyson has made healthy lifestyle changes to control her risk factors, like eliminating fried foods and enjoying a salad each day—just like her vegetarian daughter. She’s also started exercising each day.

Alyson has since completely regained her mobility. Alyson and Aria Joy also recently completed a 5K walk. Although her speech remains slightly impaired, she was able to return to work six months after her stroke.

She encourages others to make changes now to reduce their risk for stroke: “Eat healthy. Exercise. Drink [alcohol] less often and quit smoking,” she says. “You have to be an advocate for your health.”

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