By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS

“I don’t want you to worry.”

Those were the words that made Danielle Robbins panic when she got an early-morning call from her sister Sara on May 12, 2012. Sara told Danielle that she thought their dad, Stephen Bishop, had suffered a stroke.

Stephen’s wife, Joan, is a nurse in the Sycamore Medical Center’s stroke unit in Miamisburg, Ohio. She knew to look for stroke symptoms using the acronym F.A.S.T. — face drooping, arm weakness, speech difficulty, time to call 911.

Stephen’s face was drooping on one side, he couldn’t lift his right arm and he was experiencing some confusion.

“I had noticed that my legs were weak and trembling the night before, but I thought nothing of it,” said Stephen, who was 50 at the time. “When I woke up, I couldn’t move my right arm or leg. I didn’t know what to think of it. Thank goodness Joan did.”

He credits her quick thinking with saving him from worse damage. “She performed a complete stroke assessment on me, just as she has done countless times on her floor. She recognized the symptoms and called 911 immediately,” said Stephen of West Carrollton, Ohio.

Paramedics were on their way. Stephen was tested and treated for a stroke at Sycamore Medical Center.

He began rehabilitation in the hospital using a walker, which he nicknamed “Cordell” — Chuck Norris’ character on Walker, Texas Ranger.

“I use humor to get through pain,” Stephen said. When his 1-year-old grandson, Carter, visited him in the hospital, he practiced walking in tandem with Stephen down the hospital halls.

Stephen Bishop after his stroke with grandson Carter. (Photo courtesy of Stephen Bishop)

Stephen Bishop after his stroke with grandson Carter. (Photo courtesy of Stephen Bishop)

Once he returned home — taking about three months off from work — Stephen’s recovery and rehabilitation were slow but steady. He graduated from Cordell to his cane, which he referred to jokingly as “Horatio” after David Caruso’s character on CSI: Miami.

Stephen, who struggles with obesity and has Type 2 diabetes, also resolved to do something about his weight. He learned that if he didn’t get his diabetes under control, he’d likely be blind in a year from diabetic retinopathy.

Stephen knew he had to take action. His boss and good friend Bob Trick helped jump-start his weight loss efforts by paying for a personal trainer for three months. Stephen continues to work with a personal trainer twice a week at his local YMCA and also exercises on his own. He even competes in 5K races.

Stephen Bishop with his wife, Joan, after their first 5K in 2015. (Photo courtesy of Stephen Bishop)

Stephen Bishop with his wife, Joan, after their first 5K in 2015. (Photo courtesy of Stephen Bishop)

Committed to eating healthy, he has lost 65 pounds so far. He’s determined to lose another 50.

Stephen is also pursuing his dream of acting, and he’s played small parts in several movies since his stroke.

He hopes to inspire other survivors to stay focused and take charge of their recovery.

“Even if you’re taking baby steps, you’re moving toward your goal of getting healthy,” he said.