Voices of the NIH Community

“Now’s your chance to run”

In 2014, Karenne Fru was 32 years old and a successful clinical researcher at NIH who had recently fallen in love with a colleague, Brad Reveal. Then, out of the blue, she had a stroke. Karenne and her now-husband Brad reflect on her unusual stroke experience and how he stood by her.


Karenne Fru: I told them, “I’m having neurologic difficulties.”  And I could barely talk and I was dragging my right leg at this point and my right hand was pretty much useless.  They went and got you and they’re like, “We can’t understand her, what is she talking about?”

Brad Reveal: And so I told them the basic symptoms.  I think immediately they said, “Oh, you’ve had a stroke.”

Karenne Fru: Yup.  So when we got to Adventist Rehab, I was in a wheelchair.  I didn’t know what my recovery was going to be and my cognition didn’t seem like it was doing well at all.  And I thought, well, we’ve only been dating three months, I wouldn’t hold it against you if you left.  It didn’t seem fair to ask you to stick around not knowing what…  It could have gone either way, you know.

Brad Reveal: No.

Karenne Fru: You could still be pushing me around in a wheelchair.

Brad Reveal: I remember what you said was…you looked down at your feet and you said, “Now’s your chance to run.”  What did I say?

Karenne Fru: I don’t remember, I just remember that you didn’t.

Brad Reveal: I said, “I don’t think you understand how attractive you are to me now.”  You’re going through this terrible, terrible experience and you have a very positive attitude and you’re happy and you have all these people that love you and are around you, encouraging you on.  You got to know what kind of people we were pretty quickly and you were somebody I wanted to be with. 

Karenne Fru: Do you still feel that way?

Brad Reveal: Yeah, of course.

So, how long were you in rehab and what was your physical and mental capabilities when you got out?

Karenne Fru: That was two weeks and then when I came out, I was walking, not very far, but I could walk.  I think they told me it would take a year to a year and a half for everything to be fully recovered.

Brad Reveal: And so it’s been about a year, how far along are you?

Karenne Fru: I still have good days and bad days.  Some days I feel about 100%, honestly.

Brad Reveal: So I’m not the only support you have, what else have you been doing to get emotional support?

Karenne Fru: There’s my family, of course; they’ve been lovely. 

Brad Reveal: Yeah, that’s good.

Karenne Fru: I go to stroke support group meeting.  It’s been a good thing.  They’re all older, but they’re funny.  Some of them, it’s been years since their stroke and they can’t talk.  There are a couple of guys still stuck in wheelchairs.  And they look at me with pride.  They think there’s hope when I show up.  I know ‘cause they’ve said so.

This page last reviewed on February 27, 2023