There are a lot of boxes one must check to be an FBI Special Agent. Being physically fit is one of them - agents must be ready for anything at any time.
That's why Diane Wehner trains daily inside the gym at the FBI's Charlotte Field Office. Wehner has been an agent for 11 years, working on investigations involving white-collar crime, counterintelligence, and terrorism. But she never could have prepared for what came in September of 2015.
"It happened in a heartbeat. I woke up one morning completely fine," she said.
Wehner had just finished up her yearly required FBI fit test.
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"At the end of the fit test I didn't feel very well. My neck hurt, my back hurt," she said.
Her partner took her to CMC-Pineville, but when the pain started to dull, Wehner says she tried to go home.
"I said, 'hey, I feel OK, I'm going to go home now.' That's what I said in my head, but what came out was slurred words," she said.
"When we first met Diane, she was in the middle of having a stroke and with strokes, time is very important," said Dr. Joe Bernard, an Endovascular Neuro Surgeon at Carolinas Medical Center where Wehner was eventually airlifted.
At age 36, Wehner had dissected both arteries in the back of her neck, likely while she was doing sit-ups during the FBI's fit test.
Bernard operated quickly to remove the clot before it was too late.
"Sometimes we have hours to be able to do this. Sometimes we just have minutes," he said.
The surgery was successful, but Diane spent the next five months out of work rehabbing herself and her basic skills.
"I'm kind of stubborn. So I was doing everything I could to get back to where I was. You lay on the couch long enough and you get really bored," she said.
Wehner has returned to doing what she loves, being an FBI agent. But that's not all, earlier this month she biked nearly 500 miles to Washington DC for Police Week.
Wehner credits Bernard with her life, but he says it was likely her quick decision to get to the hospital that saved her and he advises others to listen to their bodies if something doesn't feel quite right.
"Diane's unusual because most strokes happen in older patients, but part of the awareness that needs to be broadcast is strokes can happen to anybody," Bernard said.