I’m A Survivor
It was April 11, 2009, a normal Saturday morning. I lived alone and had just gotten up to let my two dogs out. My brother worked close by on the weekends and he had just called me to ask a favor. I told him I would go brush my teeth then do it. I went upstairs and started to brush my teeth when suddenly I lost control of my right arm. My arm fell and I couldn’t bring it up, the room started to spin and I couldn’t see straight and I slid down my bathroom vanity to the floor thinking I just needed to sit down. At this point I was thinking it must be low sugar because I am type one diabetic and that is the only thing I could imagine it being, but this felt different. VERY different.
I slid down the steps to get to the refrigerator to get some juice to bring my sugar up, but something felt wrong, something I never felt before. I tried to dial the phone to call my mom but it fell out of my hand and I couldn’t get the refrigerator door open. I panicked, I then started to vomit uncontrollably when my phone rang. Thankfully, I was able to answer and get the words “help me” out to my brother, who was on the other end of the phone. I can’t tell you how lucky I am that he worked minutes away.
Two minutes later my brother was in my kitchen with me dialing 9-1-1 then calling my parents. My father arrived at the same time as the ambulance and rode with me to Bayview Hospital. It really is a blur once I arrived at the hospital. My heard hurt so bad and I couldn’t open my eyes. The light was blinding so it was better to keep them shut. This was some weird virus, I thought, and I figured they would give me some medicine and I would be on my way back home in a few hours.
A short time later I heard someone say “She suffered a stroke.” Wait, what? They must have the wrong person, I’m 35, a 35-year-old doesn’t have a stroke.
Yes, I suffered a stroke in my cerebellum that affected my balance and coordination. I was admitted to the hospital where I stayed for 4 days. The doctors at the hospital performed numerous tests and no one could determine what caused my stroke. I then spent 10 days in a rehabilitation center, then another week recovering at home before returning to work. I am now 100% recovered with no residual side effects.
Things I learned from my stroke. I was very lucky my brother was close and called me when he did. I was meant to be a survivor, to have more time, someone wanted me here and I had a lot of unfinished business to take care of. Speaking of time, time is the most important thing to get the medical attention you need as quickly as possible. If you do not get the treatment you need in a timely manner you will suffer side effects or may not even survive. Know the symptoms. My arm was the first sign of a stroke, I now know all of the signs to look for in myself and others. This is key, know the signs and call for help as soon as the symptoms appear. Too often people dismiss the symptoms as not important, I know I did at first. A stroke does not discrimination. It does not only happen to older people. I was 35. It was so important that I maintained a daily exercise routine and a healthy diet. I was told by multiple doctors this was key to my recovery.
I met my husband 6 months after my stroke. We were married in 2011 and had our daughter in 2015. I now know why I was meant to be a survivor. The stroke really changed my life. I am thankful for every day that I have with my family.
The mission of the American Heart Association is to be a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. I combine my passion of storytelling and relationship building to further the mission.