Dec 1
kelsi.knivila , Posted on SUPPORT NETWORK Blog

I am strong and I made it through this

My 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. 
  • apatis
    Hi Kelsi, I had a similar stroke on November, 18,2015 but I can tell you are a fighter like myself. You may want to read my story .FIGHTING BACK. KEEP FIGHTING, Al
  • Christinag
    Kelsi, I had my second stroke after an intense migraine I had for a week that I didn't actually know I had. I thought it was just a stiff neck and heavy head, but that was a migraine. I have been diagnosed with a complex migraine disorder that leads to strokes. You need to see a neurologist who specializes in migraines to try to get them under control. The reason I can lead you this way is that after a stroke that is caused by a migraine the migraines tend to ramp up for a while, sounds like your description. . And make sure that your blood is thin enough to pass through the arteries when you do have a migraine. You can take aspirin for this and it can be tested ina test called Verify Now, which measures how the aspirin is thinning your blood. If it is not thin enough, needs to be under 550 count, then you take Plavix . If you have any thoughts on all I have told you, just send me a note and we can speak by phone. I take verapamil now to control the migraines, nothing else as that actually may trigger it. Good luck, take my notes to the doc!!!!!!
  • dwaynec
    Hi Kelsi, stay STRONG!! Have you tried Nitric Oxide therapy? The medical community is calling Nitric Oxide the miracle molecule! Along with lifestyle change it's helping people who suffer from cardio vascular disease. I do a health awareness webinar every Monday and Wednesday at 8 pm eastern to help fight CVD. Please feel free to join in on our next webinar this Monday or Wednesday by clicking this link: or you can dial in 712)770-4010 code 594427. Also check out "The Whole Heart Solution" by Dr. Joel Kahn MD. To Your Health!! Dwayne
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