On April 21st, 2017, the sun rose, the coffee was brewed, and the shower was finished.
It was a day like any other. As I stepped out of the shower and wiped the steam from the bathroom mirror, I noticed my left thumb felt numb and I felt a bit woozy. So I went to lie down on the bed and realized something was really wrong.
I stood up to get the phone to call 911 and immediately fell to the floor, unable to get back up. I called out to my 14-year-old son, Avery, and told him to call 911 because I thought I was having a stroke. He was amazingly calm, and I overheard him telling the 911 operator that his mom was having a stroke and that they needed to get here as fast as possible. He also offered to stand on the front lawn to make it easier for them to find us. Then he asked what I needed him to do for me. I told him to ask his little sister Peyton to call their dad and to help me put on the dress on the bed since I suddenly remembered I was stark naked and still wet from the shower.
Our neighbor, a volunteer firefighter, came over to see if he could help when he heard the call come over his radio. That’s when I became acutely aware of how messy my bedroom was.
The paramedics came very quickly and loaded me carefully into the ambulance. I looked out of the rear door, saw my husband pull up in his car and knew my kids would be looked after. Then I let myself drift off to sleep.
Some of the initial time I spent in the hospital was a blur as I was in and out of consciousness.
I’d had a hemorrhagic stroke.
Luckily, I received excellent care right away. I was in the Albany Med Stroke Unit for a few days and then I was moved up to the rehab floor for daily physical therapy and occupational therapy. Just as I was starting to make progress, a monkey wrench was thrown into the works. I discovered a painful warm spot on my calf.
My nurse tried to keep me calm so as not make me worry. He informed my doctor and I was sent for a Doppler ultrasound. When I got back upstairs, I passed out in the bathroom. The next thing I knew, it was dark outside, and I was surrounded by doctors I hadn’t met before. They explained that I had a pulmonary embolism and needed to have surgery as soon as possible.
Luckily, the surgery was a success.
So after a stay in ICU and a few days on a closely monitored floor, back to rehab I went.
Two months after my stroke, I was discharged and was able to go home to my family. I
continued with my therapies and slowly got back to my life.
My life is not the same. It is different, but it is my life and I’m thankful to still be here. I have made adjustments. I walk with a brace and a cane, but I walk on my own volition. I cannot play my cello in concert at this point due to my left side weakness, but I am back teaching string instrument lessons, I just do it differently.
I conducted my two cello choirs this summer and I’ve become the new conductor of an
educational outreach youth orchestra.
My life is far from over though it is different.
There can be a fulfilling life after stroke. My name is Monica Wilson-Roach and by the grace of God, I am living proof.
Our mission is to be a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. For nearly 100 years, we’ve been fighting heart disease and stroke, striving to save and improve lives. Heart disease is the No. 1 killer worldwide, and stroke ranks second globally. Even when those conditions don’t result in death, they cause disability and diminish quality of life. We want to see a world free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.