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We're celebrating patient successes during National Stroke Awareness Month! Congratulations to former patient Leena Ruedin, pictured here with her husband, Richard Ruedin, and dog, Mishie Lou. After a long week at work, Leena, a 37-year-old regulatory affairs contractor, and her husband, Richie, were enjoying a quiet Valentine’s Day evening at home in O’Fallon, Mo., until the evening took a sudden turn, changing their lives forever.

Leena began to experience excruciating pain immediately after taking her evening medications, including a new one she had started that day. Her husband called 911 and Leena was rushed to a local hospital, where a CT scan revealed a left-sided hemorrhagic stroke. After seven days at the acute care hospital, Leena was transferred to The Rehabilitation Institute of St. Louis, unable to walk, talk, process information or use her right dominant side.

“I knew I couldn’t talk or move, and I was aware of my surroundings, but I couldn’t remember the specifics of why I was in the hospital,” Leena said. “That was the first time I remember being told that I had a stroke.” Leena grew more aware and more determined to regain her mobility and independence, as well as her voice, over the next few weeks. During her many hours of therapy, she met the rehabilitation team’s therapy dog, Bandit. Being a dog lover and dog owner, meeting Bandit brought joy to her therapy sessions. “I remember being so excited to see him,” Leena said. “I always say petting him brought my right hand back to life.”

Twenty days after her arrival, Leena sauntered out of the hospital, ready for outpatient therapy. She also began researching the new medication she suspected had caused her stroke. After hours of factfinding, she learned the medication had a contraindication that was not listed in its drug safety profile, causing a significant interaction with another medication she took. She pushed the FDA to make a label change and was successful. Leena is now pursuing post-graduate education regarding drug safety and plans to continue to advocate for robust and complete drug safety profiling among pharmaceutical companies and the FDA. While she still suffers from aphasia symptoms from time to time, her recovery has been nothing short of miraculous. We're so proud of your recovery, Leena!