Tom McLane, April’s husband, helps share his wife’s story. April lives fierce every single day and, as you’ll soon learn, she continues to overcome her complications from stroke while maintaining an active, happy life.
On June 18, 2014, April had a massive stroke. She was a healthy 37-year-old mother of two who had no risk factors or family history of strokes at such an early age. Still, the stroke was a catastrophic stroke that was considered very non-survivable. But through her strong will and determination, April surprised doctors and heroically fought through the affliction, and ultimately survived.
April had suffered from a lifetime of migraine headaches, which had been getting progressively worse up until the point of the stroke. After the initial stroke, April sustained continuous stroke activity, and ultimately needed life-saving cranial surgery to relieve her swelling brain. She then spent the next 43 days in the hospital, fighting for her life and relearning how to walk, talk, and various other activities of daily living.
April then underwent years of physical and occupational therapy, as well as three surgeries in the attempt to restore hand/wrist functionality to her impacted right limb. There have been, and remain, many challenges along the way, and her share of frustrations. She has right side mobility difficulties, and Expressive Aphasia, which is a communication condition which causes her to not always be able to verbalize what her mind wishes to say. She is on seizure medication to control epilepsy that was caused by the stroke. Despite the challenges, April has remained determined to get better, as she is very strong-willed.
Despite these challenges, April has arisen from a near fatal stroke sufferer to a full-on survivor. She is the very definition of a walking miracle. Even though she is still in the process of healing, the results are nothing sort of phenomenal. She walks (very briskly) without a cane, she drives, she visits her friends at Starbucks, she enjoys her music, she passionately follows her Marshall Thundering Herd, she takes care of her three dogs, she cleans the house, goes to Mass, she raises her teenage son, Philip, and that is just a handful of things April enjoys in her life. She is excited that she will soon be a grandmother, as April’s daughter, Morrigan Cartmill, is expecting a baby boy in August. Seven years ago, these sorts of current happenings seemed like unrealistic fantasies. But now, they are indeed realities. She is living a full life now when it seemed she would have a very limited one, or not one at all back in June of 2014.
Every time it seems her development has plateaued, she surprises and regains more abilities. She is a work-in-progress, and the progress has been miraculous considering where she was 7 years ago, when she was clinging to life on a ventilator, to what she is capable of now. The outcome she has achieved is the makings of a dream come true.
April is adamant that people know FAST, which are the warning signs of stroke: Face drooping, Arm Weakness, Speech Difficulty, and Time to call 9-1-1. April also advocates Migraine Headache Awareness. April, as well as many in her family, had suffered migraines all her life. April implores those who have severe migraines to seek medical treatment and to view the migraines as an early onset indication of stroke.
April has risen above what was deemed non-survivable and is now able to help others. She has resumed her life, her role in her family, and makes every day count. Through love, determination, and healing, the “new normal” of April’s life is even more rich and even more valuable than it ever was before the stroke. She is no longer “April the stroke victim” or “April the stroke survivor,” She is just “April,” who has a very big heart and soul, and is loved by many, just as she deeply loves all of her family and friends. Seven years ago, the world almost lost this precious lady. But as it turns out, April had different ideas. And we are all very grateful for that!
Kevin is the Communications Director for West Virginia and Western Virginia. When not in the office, Kevin is an active performer with the State 35 Comedy Troupe and is the founding member of the Ghostbusters – WV Division fundraising team. He has been with the organization since 2005.