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Jodi C.
Jodi C.
Survivor

Tracey E.
Tracey E.
Survivor

Lauren C.
Lauren C.
Survivor

Lori K.
Lori K.
Survivor

Liane W.
Liane W.
Survivor

Kristina P.

Kristina & Family
Kristina & Family

Survivor

Seeing the Miracles

My stroke occurred on Jan 8, 2002, at the age of 27, without warning or risk factors. I left the hospital four days later with a new life, one monitored by blood draws, doctors with specialties I had never heard of and a new title, "stroke survivor."

I was blessed that my stroke happened at home, before my hour and half commute, and that my husband was still at home. All I could tell my husband was that I had just gotten up off the bathroom floor and did not know why. On the way to the hospital, I could not remember phone numbers, individuals in my life and my right peripheral vision was gone. The ER ran a battery of tests. I was nearly released with a diagnosis of a really bad migraine if not for the tingling down my right arm, before I lost consciousness.

The last test they ran was an MRI, which found the stroke and its cause; a torn and dissected left vertebral artery. The follow-up angiogram found devastating damage. The doctor who ran the test told my husband, "that if you believe in God, you should thank Him because your wife should have no memory and vision at all." That was our first miracle. I left the hospital four days later with a new life that included a new title of "stroke survivor". At the age of 27, it is hard to find anyone else that can truly understand your fear and the overarching affect that this title will have on the rest of your life. I did not have children yet. At that point, I was told  to wait a year and monitor the brain's healing. Then, the doctors would decide if it was possible. My career was in politics. A job I dreamed of since being a teenager. It was deemed too stressful and I was told that it would be taken away. The slow process of physical healing began but the emotional healing... well, if I am to be completely honest, I don't believe that healing ever occurs, it just improves as you learn to regain control of your life.

Five months later, an MRI revealed that the artery had healed itself and that blood was flowing freely through the vertebral artery. Six months later, a conference call between an obstetrician, neurologist and high risk obstetrician changed my life forever when they determined that we could proceed with having children.

Exactly two years to the day after my stroke was our first son's due date, January 8. This was our second miracle. Two more children were to come after our first. Each pregnancy was high risk, difficult and they were all born via C-section and placed in intensive care for a while. But again, the hand of God was over my family. As my three boys get older they are now realizing that mommy has a "bad brain" and sometimes cannot remember things and gets headaches, dizziness or tired. It is a burden I wish my children did not have to bear. My husband has been a wonderful support over the years, as the stroke happened only five years into our marriage. He bears the burden of being the sole financial provider as well as caring for me on my "off days", as we call them, and caring for my boys when I cannot. My long-term memory is either gone or very erratic and I often "fake" greetings when I run into people I haven't seen in years (or so they tell me). I find that is easier than having to tell my story again and see the pity in their eyes and the awkward silence that follows as they don't know what to say.

I have been unable to find answers from any doctors as to why my artery dissected. I have seen MANY doctors and they have run many tests and have many theories, but no firm answers. I can live in fear for the rest of my life, worrying that each day it will happen again and to be honest, some days, the fear takes over, but I force myself past it. I rely on the God who was there the first time and know He will always be there for me, as will the wonderful family and friends He has surrounded me with in this life.

 

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Display of the Faces of Stroke stories does not imply National Stroke Association's endorsement of any product, treatment, service or entity. National Stroke Association strongly recommends that people ask a healthcare professional about diagnosis and treatment questions before using any product, treatment or service. The views expressed through the stories reflect those of the authors and do not reflect the opinion of National Stroke Association.

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Faces of Stroke

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