Survived 11-10-15I am 35 years old, been healthy my whole life, and suffered an ischemic stroke November 10, 2015. My stroke experience was a traumatic one but I survived without any major complications and no disabilities. I consider myself very lucky and blessed to be alive and well today.
I will never forget what happened the night I had my stroke. I was home alone in my apartment getting ready for bed when my stroke hit me. I remember a very loud buzzing sound in my head that caused me to panic. I tried to figure out what was wrong but couldn't. I made my way to the kitchen of my apartment still in a panic and began to fall. I tried to get myself up several times but continued to fall. I bruised my body and bloodied my hands in the process from hitting myself so much. I knew that I was in trouble and had to get help. I thought about calling for help from my phone but my coordination was so off that I wasn't able to hold the phone and dial. I had to escape my apartment and struggled to get out. Normally my apartment would be locked but for some reason I hadn't locked it that night. I struggled out of my apartment but was able to get out. Once I got out, I laid in the hallway floor of my apartment complex trying to make sense of what was happening to me. A bystander had walked in and I yelled to him for help. He took one look at me and walked away as if not wanting to get involved with what was happening to me. I laid for about a minute and managed to drag myself to the parking garage which was 20 feet from where I was. I laid on the ground helplessly for several minutes until another bystander found me. He was scared and asked what was wrong but I wasn't able to tell him due to aphasia. I thought for a second he was going to leave me where I was. After several minutes, his friend showed up. He came over to me and asked what was wrong, but again I couldn't say. They asked if I had been drinking or was on drugs, but all I could do was shake my head. I wanted to tell them that I didn't know what was wrong but I couldn't no matter how hard I tried. They called 911 and EMT's showed up about 15 minutes later. They too didn't know what was wrong and asked if I had been drinking or was on drugs but again I couldn't tell them. It was so frustrating not being able to talk or help myself. I felt helpless and scared. Finally they stood me up and put on me on a stretcher. Afterwards, my neighbor had told me that the EMT's wanted to patch me up and put me back in my apartment, but being a nurse herself, she insisted to them that I be taken to the hospital. I was taken by ambulance to the hospital.
Once I made it to the hospital I was put in critical care. I struggled to talk and had lost complete feeling on my right side. I managed to ask the doctor what was wrong with me and that is when he informed me that I was having a stroke. I was in complete shock and disbelief. I couldn't believe what was happening to me. I remember feeling so uncomfortable and short on breath and feeling that I might die. Doctors later explained that they needed to give me tPA and that they needed my consent. Reality really set in when the doctor, who was communicating to me through a computer screen, explained that this drug had a 30% chance of working and a 70% chance that it could kill me. I remember being so scared not knowing what to do as I had to make a decision. After a few minutes I began to become unstable again. I was unable to talk and couldn't stay still. Without my consent the doctors ended up giving me tPA which helped save my life. I remember the nurses saying, that I was going to be okay, that the drug needed a little bit of time to work. After which seemed about twenty minutes or so, the tPA began to work, and I was able to move my right leg and arm. It was such a huge relief for me and the doctors. Slowly the feeling on my right side started to come back. My family at the time didn't know that any of this was going on. I somehow was able to give one of the doctors my parent’s phone number. I remember having to mumble it to him several times before he finally understood me. My parents showed up about 30 minutes later as they live outside the city. I was scared that I was never going to get to see them again. Once my parents showed up, my mom walked over and touched me on my forehead. For some reason at that moment when she touched me, I started to feel better. I was able to tell her that I was sorry for what was happening. I remained in the E.R. until I received all of the tPA and was taken by Life Flight to another hospital where I would receive a higher level of care. I spent a night in ICU and a week in the hospital.
The stroke I had affected the cerebellum part of my brain and a small portion of my brain stem. Doctors discovered a PFO in my heart but were unable to find the source of where the blood clot had come from. They believe it may have come from my leg. After a week I was well enough to be discharged from the hospital. I was on blood thinners for the first three months and did six weeks of physical therapy. Fast forward to today and I am fully recovered only having to take Aspirin daily.
My stroke survivor story was featured on the news to help bring awareness about the severity of stroke and to educate others about the signs and symptoms. My experience was traumatic but I survived it. What helped save me was getting to the E.R. in time to receive tPA. Looking back so many things could have gone wrong but thankfully they didn't. I never was able to thank the people who called 911 for me but I will be forever thankful that they did. Today I am fully recovered and able to do the things I once did prior to my stroke. I struggled with a little bit of depression after my stroke like others have experienced but have managed to get through it. I have had several follow up visits with my doctors and they too think that I am doing very well. I know how lucky I am to have survived and be where I am today. I thank God everyday for my survival and will be forever thankful.