AmbassadorDN
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AmbassadorDN, October 22,  2018  10:19pm EST

Pediatric Stroke Awareness Day is October 29

Much can be done to spread awareness of pediatric stroke! Sadly, strokes in babies, children, and adolescents often go unnoticed or undiagnosed as symptoms are often mistaken for other conditions. 

I survived a stroke myself at birth. My mother was in labor with me when my congenital heart defect caused a heart attack that threw a clot to my brain. I lived most of my life believing that my weak right side was caused simply by losing some oxygen for a few moments during the heart attack. It wasn’t until 2016, after my second valve surgery when I had a transient ischemic attack (TIA), that my cardiologist sent me in for an MRI of my brain. He flipped out over the results and promptly sent me to a neurologist who diagnosed the perinatal (during birth) stroke. 

I learned so much from the official diagnosis. It didn’t change anything in my life, other than to explain and have a name for the right-sided weakness. It didn’t erase the bullying I received as a child or my own self-doubts as a young person. Nevertheless, I have been able to do so much—I ran track in high school, I went to college, got married, have a career, and volunteer here with the AHA. For any parents of pediatric stroke warriors, continue to advocate for your child. Your child, in spite of his or her stroke, can do so much!

Meanwhile, I ended up in the ER in July 2017, having symptoms of a blood clot in my leg. Thank goodness it turned out to be nothing, but the ER doctor, upon looking at my legs and observing that my left leg is larger than my right, asked about it and I told him about the stroke. He said, “You couldn’t have had a stroke as a baby! Babies don’t have strokes!” And therein lies the problem. There are still doctors who do not for any reason recognize pediatric strokes. We can do more to educate.

1 Reply
  • AHAASAKatie
    AHAASAKatie, October 24,  2018  8:57am EST

    Thank you for sharing this, you are so right- there is much education and awareness for us to do. Best Katie 

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