Winnipeg stroke survivor overcomes barriers, pursues passion for acting

Mitch Krohn has always loved being on stage. He was active in the local theatre community for years.

But in December 2016, a stroke dramatically changed his life.

While undergoing spine surgery, Krohn suffered a stroke and was left unable to walk or use his left arm.

“I remember trying to reach for something and nothing happened. My left side just didn’t move.”

He was almost certain his days of prompting laughter from an audience were over.

“I’m bound to the wheelchair. Improv is very much an able-bodied game,” Krohn said.

He spent 13 months in hospital before being able to even visit his house.

While it took more than a year for him to develop the physical strength to move back home, he also needed a lightweight wheelchair and a motorized lift installed to bypass a set of stairs leading into his house.

Returning home and being able to get around more independently has been a huge step forward.

“If I didn’t have a wheelchair available to me I’d still be in the hospital probably. All I would be able to do is lie in bed,” Krohn said.

“Having the wheelchair has definitely opened life.”

In addition to being able to live in his own home, Krohn is also back on stage pursuing his passion for acting.

“My improv troupe has been fabulous in the sense of opening the door of inclusion for me.”

Krohn’s theatre friends didn’t waste any time drawing him back into the mix.

“I was just out of HSC (Health Sciences Centre) and they wrote a part that I could play a patient on a gurney.”

Every day still comes with an enormous list of challenges; he can only access four rooms in his house, he can’t get into the basement, the hallways are extremely narrow to get through and the list goes on, but he’s back at work and setting new goals along the way.

“I’m hoping that I’ll be able to walk independently again. We’re hoping for that kind of thing in five years.”

There’s plenty for Krohn to navigate in life, but it comes with renewed independence, hope and lighthearted moments on stage that continue to bring him joy.

Mitch Krohn is the 2019-2020 Adult Ambassador for SMD the Society for Manitobans with Disabilities. The organization provides funding and support for people living with a disability.

Mitch Krohn at in his livingroom, one of only 3 rooms he can access with his wheelchair

Mitch eating with his one hand after his stroke

Mitch Krohn and his wife

Mitch (and friends) acting in a comedy skit, practicing for the Winnipeg Fringe Festival 2018.

Mitch on stage as a pirate before having a stroke

Mitch in a theatre performance

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