On November 16, 2010 my life changed drastically. I never thought I would need to recognize the warning signs of a stroke, especially for myself at age 36. Thank goodness I did because within an hour of the onset of my first symptom my whole right side was paralyzed and I was essentially mute. At the hospital, I was given a clot-busting drug (TPA), with the hope of restoring blood flow to the part of my brain that was deprived. Most of my function came back over the next week in the hospital. I received occupational, physical and speech therapy. By the time I was discharged on November 23rd (the day after my 37th birthday), I was walking on the treadmill, frying an egg and talking in full sentences. Since my release from the hospital, it has been confirmed that I have a genetic condition that predisposes me to clotting. I am about 90% fully functional now after a great deal of rehabilitation. I still have a bit of trouble with my speech and fine motor in my right hand, but I am very lucky to be alive! If featured in the NSA Faces of Stroke campaign materials, my message would be to listen to your body! Make yourself aware of the symptoms. They can happen at any age. Seek immediate medical assistance when you suspect you are having a stroke. Stroke does not have to be the #3 killer in our society. You can recover. I am living proof!
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