SARASOTA-  It’s National Stroke Awareness Month and Encompass Health brought Stroke Survivors together with members of the community to promote healthy living.

Just over two years ago, Mike Natalie thought he was just suffering from a bad ear ache.

“I woke up in the middle of the night and I couldn’t really function at all,” Natalie said. “I remember getting up and not being able to function at all, I remember getting up and not being able to stand up, I was drooling out of one side of my mouth.”

He suffered a stroke, and after a hospital stay came a long recovery, where he had to relearn how to do everything.

“I was a very, very active person,” Natalie said. “So it was just extremely hard for me to have to start again, not really knowing, I have no function in my left arm, and my left leg is minimal, so I can’t really do much and it was just very hard to try to get back into the swing of things.”

Director of Therapy Operations for Encompass Health Matt Shouse says everyone’s strokes will be different.

“And they all need to be treated differently,” Shouse said. “Some have very mild impairments that they just need to get over that bump in that road and back to a normal lifestyle. Some have pretty severe impairments that are going to be a little longer recovery.”

 And everyone should know the symptoms of a stroke.

“People tend to think of a stroke as something that happens to an older person,” President of Inpatient Hospitals for Encompass Health Barbara Jacob-  Meyer said.  “And we are having younger and younger people having strokes, so the awareness is not just for Grandma and Grandpa it’s for everyone at any age.”

Mike Natalie says he never expected to have a stroke, now he wants everyone to know what to do.

“Just pay attention to what’s going on and if you think you’re having a stroke just get right to the hospital as quickly as possible, I know now there is medications they can give you when you get in that can reverse some of the effects of a stroke. I couldn’t do that because I waited too long.”