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SF Solo Series : My Stroke of Luck

By Tea Francesca Price

As her horse slowed to a stop on its own accord, Diane Barnes knew that she would need to regain control from the ground. Swinging down from the saddle, however, she realized something else.

“I am all my kids have,” she thought, as a searing pain changed her life forever.

Barnes always loved the puzzle of medicine and worked hard to become a third-generation physician. Earning her undergraduate degree from Stanford and a medical degree from Yale, she built a successful career as a diagnostic radiologist.

She also became the single mother by adoption to two sons. Thus, in July 2005, when Barnes recognized the worst headache of her life as a stroke, she knew she had to recover.

“I felt honor and duty bound to get back,” she said. “The kids were my motivation and my brain still had an image of a functioning Diane pre-stroke.”

In total, it took nearly eight years for Barnes to feel intact, and she credits Schurig Center for Brain Injury Recovery in Marin for helping develop her new self.

“When your worst nightmare comes true, there is a silver lining,” Barnes said. “You can stay stuck, or you can embrace it and make the best of what you can with what you have.”

Barnes returned to work part-time so as to comply with her medical insurance, but eventually took an early buyout and began a course in writing and performing at The Marsh. Through discovering improvisation and the mantra, “Yes, and…,” her life transformed.

Now, she is sharing her story, pivotal experiences and path to recovery in an engaging and disarming solo-show performance called, My Stroke of Luck. The show is as unique as it is important for relaying a deeper level of humanity and empathy for others.

You can see My Stroke of Luck, Sunday, Nov 10 at 7pm in the Showcase Theater.

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