May 11
MeganWhitaker , Posted on SUPPORT NETWORK Blog

Bilateral Stroke Survivor

My life came to a screeching halt at age 29 with a bilateral stroke on August 31, 2013.

Pre-stroke I did everything right. I went to college and majored in Computer Science and Math with a minor in Physics while holding down a part-time job. I graduated with a 4.0 GPA. Then, I went on to have an awesome career as a Sr. Software Engineer.

My stroke affected my left and right frontal lobe and left temporo-parietal area of my brain. My stroke left me with many deficits including global aphasia (expressive and receptive/audiological processing problems), apraxia, slight hearing loss, and a gait. In the beginning, I couldn't speak nor could I understand anything. To communicate with me, my family would write notes because I could read and write. My rehabilitation started in ICU. I wrote my alphabet.

In rehabilitation, my therapists wrote notes explaining how to perform my exercises. As an example, my speech therapists would write in a notebook "repeat scissors" so I would know what to do. My therapy consisted of the following:
  • Gait - I worked on my balance in PT. My gait cleared up itself quickly.
  • Expressive Speech -  My speech came back with words. Then, words worked up to sentences. Then, the sentences built up to conversations with one person. Then, I started having conversations with two people. Then, I went to participate in group meetings with accommodations.
  • Apraxia - Got better with more speech practice.
  • Receptive/Audiological Processing - I learned how to adapt by lip-reading. I'm a great lip-reader now. I did many PHOENOME and listening exercises in therapy. Eventually, after many hearing tests, we found that I do have a slight hearing impairment. My hearing aids make it easier to hold conversations. However, this is still my biggest challenge.

I tried to go back to work with accommodations after a year post-stroke but that didn't get to happen. My confidence sank. I went from a fully successful person to someone on long-term disability. I've always thrived at being productive. I've had to go to counseling.

After being in day-neuro for a year, I was discharged to a speech/hearing clinic. I still go to speech therapy twice a week at 2 years 8 months post-stroke. I consistently meet goals. My husband has been great and helps with my speech exercises.

Overall, I've made a great recovery. I'm functional and have a great quality of life. I drive, go to my appointments alone, and shop. My ultimate goal is to return to work and I will keep striving to get there.

  • Bobcat
    You inspire me! Daily regiment is the key to recovery's from stroke. The call for independence: "Consider The Journey In Blade of Grass... It Take Place Beneath the Surface... And the Road He Travel Upon Call the... Least Resistant!..." ©
  • Marguerite
    Thank you for sharing your story and am inspired by your efforts in the recovery process! Please check out: Institute of Neurological Recovery, as Dr. Edward Tobinick has a medical protocol that has helped hundreds of stroke victims regain full recovery! Personally, this was the first "stroke treatment" via actual medical/drug intervention that I've seen--it has given me much hope. Carol, RN, BSN, BSEd
  • purple heart
    purple heart,
    Keep working! Never give up! The human body can do amazing things! Just be patient ! Easier said than done! I has a brain bleed after my cardiac arrest at age 34! I now have my first job after 16 year. I raised my children during those 16 years and they turned out great! Best of luck to you!
  • mossrock
    Wow, what a story! Glad you made it through! It's amazing how many young people get affected by these issues. I had open heart surgery this past January at age 44, never thought it would happen to me. Doing great in my recovery. Continued success to you!!! Thanks for sharing!
  • AHAASAKatie
    Such a great story! Thank you for sharing, Katie
  • stache69
    You are an inspiration to all and I'm very very proud of you. Personally, I discovered I had chronic myoelogenous leukemia while auditing medical school classes at Emory University. This made me come back to NYC and deal with the chemo while finishing up my undergrad at Columbia. Bald and freezing I made it thru and went onto get my degree and attend Julliard as well until I graduated from both schools. Two years ago I had a flu in September for three weeks and went onto back to back cruises in December on the OASIS of the SEAS. This is a mammoth ship and I was exercising/jogging and after two weeks of cruising I went onto three weeks at Disneyworld. There was alot of walking there with no difficulty. Almost a week later I found myself in the ER and drove there a little short of breath with mild edema in my feet/ankles. They ran some tests and told me I was suffering from Congestive Heart Failure. Prior to this I have no history and nothing runs in the family. Normal BP, good cholesterol and yet overweight. My EF rate was 22.3 but I had not signs of distress and I maintained on about ten pills a day. Angiogram was normal with no arteriosclerosis and no stents needed. Two months later my EF rate was 23.2 and they put the grand daddy defibrilator/pacemaker in me. I didn't feel any change at all but slowly returned to the treadmill and do my best to watch my caloric intake/heart healthy regimen. They came out with attributing it to a flu that became a virus and travelled to my heart. I only recently am beginning to struggle to breathe like never before and find it very difficult to walk more than a few hundred feet. Yet BP is fine....I have no idea what is going on and I am so over all these physicians here in South Florida.
  • andrewwwkent

    Wow, this is an inspiring story. My friend had a similar one, and she couldn’t return to work for a long time since no one wanted a worker with a disability. But she still found a job at since she has a degree. The main thing is that society should be tolerant of people who have suffered such a diagnosis. Especially, employers who don't want to hire people like that. 

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