Golfer Strives To Lose Her Stroke Jaime Anderson: A Comeback Story

By Tim Cotroneo

Prior to 2012, Jaime Anderson typically penciled in an 18-hole score of 78 to 85. Today, Jaime’s goal is to hit a golf ball by swinging with one arm. This 26-year-old native of Cottage Grove isn’t trying to show off. She’s simply doing the best she can since suffering a stroke on August 22 of last year.

If you’re wondering how it is that someone in their physical prime can suffer a stroke, you’re not alone. In fact, hardly a day goes by that Jaime doesn’t flash back to the time when she could smash a golf ball, comb her hair using both hands, or drive a car. The truth is, according to the American Stroke Association, someone suffers a stroke in the U.S. every 40 seconds.

Post-stroke, Jaime devotes five days and roughly 40-hours per week to her rehabilitation. When she’s not in therapy at the Courage Center, she’s at the Sister Kenny Institute. She compares the process of rewiring her brain and stimulating the physical movements we all take for granted as “like being born again and starting over.”

A Golfing Family Recovers
Jaime’s Dad, Bruce Anderson, has worked as a Golf Professional at River Oaks Golf Course in Cottage Grove, MN, since it opened in 1991. In the spring of 2013, or roughly nine months after Jaime’s stroke, Dad and daughter began the process of relearning the game.

“For the past three Saturdays, Jaime has been swinging with one arm at River Oaks. Jaime’s up to hitting the ball 130 yards with her right arm,” Bruce Anderson said.

What’s interesting is that the same issues that apply to a golfer, who is 100 percent able, also apply to Jaime’s game. “I need to swing inside out or otherwise my left arm gets in the way. This swinging process and working on balance are the keys to getting my game back,” Jaime said.

Career Detour
After graduating from Winona State University in 2009 with a Bachelors Degree in history, Jaime moved to New Orleans after accepting a position as a Junior Golf Director for the states of Louisiana and Mississippi. This job seemed like the perfect stepping-stone after working during her college days with the junior program for the Minnesota Section of the PGA.

In 2012, Jaime applied for and was offered an administrative position with Target Corp in downtown Minneapolis. Just two and a half months after reestablishing her Minnesota roots, Jaime was rushed to St. Paul’s United Hospital after suffering a stroke that doctors gave a 5 percent chance of recovery. Doctors discovered that Jaime’s carotid artery, which delivers blood to the brain, had broken.

After two brain surgeries and several weeks in recovery at United Hospital, Anderson began the initial steps to her comeback. “I tell people that I had a stroke, but the stroke doesn’t have me,” Jaime said.

Looking Forward
Jaime credits her support system of family, friends, neighbors, doctors, and physical therapists for encouraging her positive attitude and determination to move forward.

Just as in golf, Jaime believes it’s important to have a plan and visualize what it is she wishes to do. Whether she’s walking on a treadmill, using a computer, swinging a golf club, or grinding out 40 hours of therapy, Jaime believes having a plan for the future is half the battle toward instilling the motivation she needs to conquer today.

Why does Jaime choose to tell her story and make it public? “At the Courage Center, we all have a story. For me it’s creating a public awareness about strokes. The medical team at United Hospital saved my life. I feel it’s the least I can do to give something back to these good people. I do this by sharing what I’m dealing with and what I look forward to each day,” Jaime said.

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