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Ellen Laine

Finding Purpose

Admission: April 18, 2000

Discharge: June 2, 2000


Finding her purpose in life didn't come easily for Ellen Laine. It wasn't until she narrowly survived a massive stroke at age 33 that she found what she is really called to do.


At the time of her stroke, Ellen was living in Central Iowa with her husband and two young sons and working in corporate communications for a large international company. On January 27, 2000, she began to suffer from what she thought was the "worst migraine" of her life. That pain continued until three days later when her right middle cerebral artery hemorrhaged and caused a massive stroke.


"I was given a 'slim' chance of surviving and my family was told that if I did survive I would be confined to a bed for the rest of my life," said Ellen. 


After 78 days in the hospital, including three weeks in the ICU, four surgeries, and eight weeks of inpatient therapy, her medical team recommended On With Life for her rehabilitation.


"I survived my stroke for a reason, and I am confident On With Life was the best place for me to be as I started my new life - with an acute brain injury." 


Ellen began to comprehend she'd had a stroke only days before moving to On With Life. That reality became increasingly clear during her six weeks she was an inpatient. While she admits it was difficult to see the progress she made while there, it's much more apparent now.


"All of the therapy was provided from the perspective of helping me get back into the flow of my pre-stroke life," said Ellen. "A less tangible benefit came from interacting with the other persons served at On With Life. It shifted my perspective. Each of us had survived some horrific life event because our purpose in this world hadn't yet been fulfilled."


Now 16 years later, she continues to pursue her purpose in life, which led her to write a memoir on her stroke and recovery, Praise God for Tattered Dreams. Today, Ellen is raising her sons, writing her second book, works part-time and does stroke awareness presentations through the American Heart/Stroke Association speakers' bureau.


"I think I'm in a very good place right now as I'm finding what I am supposed to do with my life," Ellen said. "The best thing a person can have is peace and an awareness they are not in control of much in this world. If you know where you're going when your heart stops, it's all good."