Former Detroit reporter sharing stroke recovery through dancing

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In September of 2014, suddenly a news reporter became the news.

"As I was approaching the office, my leg went out twice," Darren Nichols remembers. At the time, he was 43 and a reporter at The Detroit News. He was in the middle of working on a big story at the Coleman A. Young building - and he was having a stroke.

Someone called 911 but, ironically, Darren became the victim of the very issue he had been writing about: EMS response time in Detroit.

Twenty minutes later, an ambulance showed up and Darren was transported to the hospital. When he woke up there, he was a different man.

"I was completely paralyzed, my entire right side," he says. "I'm fairly athletic. I golfed a couple times a week; I bowled. I was very active, and so by the looks you couldn't tell that I was probably walking around with high blood pressure."

Now, after months of physical therapy, Darren celebrates the ability to walk. His blood pressure likely spiked on that busy news day in Detroit, causing the stroke. A stroke happens when blood flow to the brain is blocked. After parts of the brain are oxygen starved, your whole body can be affected. For Darren, it's his right arm and leg.

But Darren is determined to get his groove back, and he's documenting it every dance step of the way. With his silly sense of humor and a series of dance videos, he's proving his progress. For the journalist, the husband and father of 8-year-old twins, it important for him to share this lesson he learned the hard way.
"I hadn't had blood pressure checked; I didn't have my blood pressure monitored; and I wasn't on blood pressure medication. Had I done those things, I probably would have prevented having a stroke," he says. 

By the way, the average ems response time is now 14 minutes in the city of Detroit. The goal is 12.

You can celebrate stroke survivors and help fight heart disease at the 2016 Metro Detroit Heart Walk this weekend in Detroit. You can get more information here.