Saturday, July 12, 2014 started out like any other normal day. My husband and I were preparing to head out of town for the weekend to celebrate our anniversary, but first we planned to stop and watch our granddaughter's baseball game. About 10 minutes into the game, I shifted my gaze to the outfield to watch as my granddaughter fielded the ball. When I shifted my focus back to the batter I suddenly noticed my left eye wasn't focusing and I felt mildly dizzy. I told my husband what I was feeling and we continued to sit watching the game, but when the feeling didn't quickly subside my daughter, who works in pediatrics, started monitoring me, asking me some simple questions and alerted my husband that he should go get the car and take me to the ER so I could be checked out just as a precaution. Once I stood up to walk my gait was noticbly altered and I was leaning strongly to the left. Thankfully the closest hospital, a Level 1 Trauma Center, was less than 10 minutes away and upon arrival they immediately recognized my symptoms as a stroke. By this time, I was unable to keep my left eye open, unable to use the left side of my body and not speaking well. Within 45 minutes of the onset of my symptoms the doctor was explaining stroke and the benefits of tPA to my husband in order to get authorization to begin administering the drug. Several hours are a bit of a blur for me as I was sent to the ICU and began a complete battery of tests to try and determine the cause of my stroke. Within 2 hours of my initial stroke diagnosis (Acute Ischemic Stroke of the Right Thalamus) most all of my symptoms were reversed and slowly all my test results all came in. No high blood pressure, no heart issues, no carotid artery issues and my cholesterol was great. In fact, I kept setting off the monitor alarms because my resting heart rate was so low. But you see, runners are known for low resting heart rates and I am a runner. After 24 hours in the ICU my neurologist declared me a healthy 45 year old woman (I was flattered since I am really a 55 year old woman) and he told me the only change he could suggest for me was that I must stop taking the hormone resplacement which I had been taking for a few years after haveing a hysterectomy. I was sent home, told to follow up with my primary care physician and that I was free to do whatever I felt like doing. Since I am typically a very active person I thought this meant I could start back with my normal running, etc not really taking in to account the fact that my brain had just gone through a severe trauma and would need time to really rest and recover. The first few weeks were tough as I forced myself to slow down and pick my activies back up one at a time.
When I had my stroke I was in the middle of training for a 15 mile trail run. I am happy to say that, with my husband by my side every step of the way, I was able to complete that trail run exactly 3 months post-stroke. I have noticed some small changes in my ability to focus on tasks for an extended period of time and I have some small memory issues that my family and I lovingly tease about. I just tell them to imagine me as Drew Barrymore in Fifty First Dates. Laughter flows freely and I take life much less seriously as a whole now. I am thankful to be alive and I am a constant advocate to teaching those around me to live a healthier lifestyle. I was healthy when I had my stroke and I credit that fact with my ability to bounce back and recover as well as I have.
I am living proof that life can literally change in the blink of an eye, so live life to the fullest, employ a positive attitude and make the most of each and every day of this gift called life.
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