I am strong and I made it through thisMy name is Kelsi. I am a stroke survivor. I am the young age of 25, and am happy that I was able to get to that quarter century in October after having a stroke in August of this year. I am an ICU nurse so I know the signs/symptoms of a stroke like it is second nature. Here is my story...
It was a usual morning spent with my two children, playing dress up in my daughters room. She was so happy that her two year old brother wanted to play with her and wear a dress (HA!) instead of playing with cars. We were sitting on the floor, and we were just talking and laughing...
At least I thought we were talking, until I saw the pure shock and scaredom appear on my 5 year old daughter's face. She tried to help me by thinking I made a mistake with my words and asked me to say it again. I did, and what I thought I was saying in my head, wasn't what was coming out in voice. It was just us at home, their dad had gone to the grocery store.
I walked around the house, squeezing my hands, testing my strenghth, Nothing seemed wrong. "I must be dehydrated", I thought. I realized that I still couldn't say what I wanted, and shear panic came out.
I fought. I knew I was having a stroke, but I couldn't voice it. I was able to call my mom, and she knew right away something was wrong. I didn't want to hang up the phone because I know from experience, strokes can get worse, people become comatose and need to be intubated. I wasn't going to let that happen. I was going to fight this stroke and talk! I was going to tell my kids I loved them, make sure it came out okay... Just in case. This was the scariest part of not knowing how badly injured my brain would be.
Being an ICU nurse, you see the worst. I couldn't help but thinking the worst could happen, but I continued to fight it.
EMS arrived, and didn't believe I had a stroke. I have had migraines in the past and have been otherwise healthy. My age didn't help. They asked if I even wanted to go to the ER. I would have said something snarky back.. If my words would have came out right. By this point, I had the WORST headache of my life, and I was exhausted. I didn't know what to do with my kids. Would they be okay if I didn't make it? Would someone be here to watch them? Would they ride in the ambulance with me? My son loved that a firetruck showed up to our house with the ambulance. He thought mommy was special.
I was taken to the ER, admitted after finding out I did have an ischemic stroke. It was a long four days of hospitalization, many tests, 4 MRIs, an echocardiogram, a transesophageal echo (glad they gave me medication so I didn't remember anything from that!). After all the testing was done, It was found that I had a cryptogenic stroke.
Here is where mixed emotions happen... I am happy that I was not diagnosed with any autoimmune diseases or any issues with plaque in the arteries, but on the other hand, I was scared and fearful for what caused this to happen to me. I was mad. Why me?! Grateful, that my symptoms and outcome weren't worse. I felt like I couldn't get it together and be calm. I was a hot mess of emotions!
Since my hospitalization, I still have no idea what caused my stroke. It has gotten a little easier about leaving the home alone. I set up plans and stay connected to people, but am still scared to take my two year old a block away to the park. I have a lot of "what if" scenarios that haunt me.
I have labile moods. I feel tired a lot, and then my words get fumbled. I have headaches daily, containing them with a migraine cocktail.
I am hopeful though. Hopeful that since I had a stroke at such a young age, I can be proactive at preventing another one. I am SO grateful my symptoms are not worse, and that is what I need to consciously remind myself daily.