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A long journey back: Cottage Grove's Jaime Anderson recovering from stroke

Jaime Anderson underwent intense physical therapy following a stroke last year, but she hasn't lost her friendly smile. She is pictured with her therapist.

Her friends, and those she graduated with from Park High School in 2005, will be glad to know that Jaime Anderson hasn't lost her friendly smile during an intense recovery from a stroke she suffered in August.

Anderson, daughter of Bruce and Ann Anderson, still has a quirky sense of humor. She no longer needs a wheelchair. As soon as she could walk even a little, her physical therapists wouldn't let her use it because they wanted her to walk.

She used a cane for a few days but they took that away, too. She used it to shut off the light in her room so she didn't have to get out of bed.

"I only have one speed," she said. "It's called slow."

It's wasn't surprising when Anderson took up playing golf as a youth, because her father has been the head golf professional at River Oaks Golf Course for 22 years. Jaime became the centerpiece of the Park girls golf team, won many honors and earned her way to the state tournament several times. Her younger brother, Beau, was on the boys golf team that won the state tournament for Park.

Jaime spent three years in New Orleans working in the USGA junior golf program, But she missed her family and moved home to get a job working in Target's main office.

She was just getting settled in St. Paul when she was stricken with a stroke in her St. Paul apartment.

By chance

On Aug. 22, she planned to have dinner with her parents and her sister, Molly, who is a massage therapist in Minneapolis, to celebrate Molly's birthday. She was waiting to be picked up and developed a headache and found herself on the floor unable to move. She heard the doorbell and phone ring.

Her parents saw that the landlord was doing some work on the property and he let them into Jaime's apartment where they found her. Her mother, Ann, a nurse, called 911 and Jaime spent the next two weeks at United Hospital. Her parents never left her side.

On the fateful night of her stroke, Jaime's roommates were gone for the evening but the landlord happened to be nearby as were her parents. Ann knew time was a critical factor. Lying inert on the floor, it could have been hours before anyone found Jaime. Or worse, yet, she could have been 2,000 miles away in New Orleans.

"There was a greater force there that night," Bruce said.

Anderson, who had no risk factors for a stroke, suffered a break in her carotid artery. There were no reasons for the stroke, only a twist of fate, Ann said.

Jaime's brain was swelling from the effects of the stroke and there were two surgeries. After the second one, the doctor was explaining the situation in medical terms Bruce didn't understand but Ann did.

"She has a five percent chance," she told her husband, after the doctor left the room.

But that afternoon, things began to change in Jaime's favor and the swelling began to go down.

Jaime winces a bit when she sees pictures of herself wearing a helmet to cover the section of her skull that was removed, not because of the pain but because she looks kind of goofy.

From United, Jaime was moved to Bethesda for its concussion treatment program. She was like a baby, her father said, because she couldn't sit up without help.

Small triumphs

Starting from not being able to sit up, everything she learned to do again was a small triumph. Walking was very hard, she said. She looked forward to being able to dress herself, all the things that would make her independent again.

She learned something important about herself during the ordeal.

"I'm stronger than I thought I was," she said.

Doctors don't know about her future recovery. So far, she can't use one arm and can't see out of one eye. But her next step involves returning to Courage Center for an innovative program from the Christopher Reeves Foundation. Reeves, of "Superman" fame, severed his spine in a horse riding accident.

The treatment, not covered by insurance, is expensive so friends are organizing a benefit to pay for it. Bruce said he's heard from more than 20 area golf courses that are donating rounds of golf. TPC Golf Course will host a benefit golf tourney in May.

Anderson is grateful for her friends and everyone who has supported her, especially her father. "He kept telling me that he wasn't going to let me fail," she said.

"She has a great attitude," Ann said.

If You Go

A benefit to help Bruce and Ann Anderson of Cottage Grove pay for physical therapy treatment for their daughter, Jaime, who suffered a stroke, will be held from 4-9 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9, at River Oaks Golf Club.

There will be a raffle, music, silent auction, craft sale and food.

Tickets are $15 apiece; $25 for two. For tickets, call Clark Opdahl at 612-599-1857 or e-mail at copdahl@hensonefron or call Julie Auge at 651-458-0809 or e-mail at

Supporters can contribute at Wells Fargo Bank and online at Type in "jaimeanderson" as keyword.

Judy Spooner
Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
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