Stroke Awareness Month: Surviving a Stroke

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If you’re anything like I used to be, you associate strokes with the elderly. You probably never gave stroke awareness much thought. Take it from me…like most medical emergencies, strokes don’t discriminate race, gender, or age.

 

In January 2009, at age 23 (yes, 23), I had a stroke. It was absolutely terrifying from my end, and I can not imagine how terrifying it was for my boyfriend of one month to witness. Thankfully, Steve recognized what was happening and rushed me to the ER (despite my insistence to just let me sleep). I can still remember his words – “You’re going to the hospital one way or another. You can leave in my car or an ambulance. You pick.” Off we went in his car. I don’t remember much from the short car ride other than him fumbling to find my parents’ phone number to call them – “come now.” 

We arrived in the ER, and I was rushed around for several tests. They were about to send me home when an ultrasound tech found a large (and I mean large) blood clot in my carotid artery. At that point, I was taken into emergency surgery. Questions were flying at me about my medical history while I was being prepped. I just remember crying and being absolutely terrified. I had a three-year-old at home. What was going to happen to me? 

I don’t know how long it was, but I woke up on the operating table, and the tears started flowing. A calm, quiet voice said, “It’s okay, honey, I’m almost done.” I would later learn that voice was my cardiac surgeon. Over the course of several days in the hospital, he would tell Steve and me that I was lucky to be here on numerous occasions. If Steve had let me go to sleep as I’d been insisting…the outcome would have been a tragic one. Scans showed that over the past month or more, what I thought were migraines had actually been several TIAs (Transient Ischemic Attack). 

a woman in a gown and a hospital bed giving two thumbs up as she recovers from a stroke
The day I was discharged.

I was sent home with over 20 pills to take each day. Steve had to learn to give me blood thinner injections two times a day for several weeks. It was overwhelming and scary, but we made it after a LONG recovery. I am extremely blessed to have suffered no permanent damage and was back to full use of my body in a short time.

A few weeks after Steve and I married in July 2010, we were contacted by a journalist from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. My uncle had called in and explained that I had married my literal hero, and they were interested in doing a piece on us. You can read it here.

This year, Steve and I are celebrating our tenth wedding anniversary.  Our fifteen-year-old is learning how to drive, and our eleven-year-old is the sweetest human I know. If Steve hadn’t known the signs or had let me go to sleep, I wouldn’t be here celebrating. For that, I’m insanely grateful and beyond blessed.

Know the signs of a Stroke!

If you’re interested in a fun way to learn the signs, this video is EVERYTHING! 

      

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