My name is Ciera, I am 20 years old, and I am a stroke survivor. I am in my sophomore year at Middle Tennessee State University, and am studying Elementary Education. I live with my two roommates Erin and Kara, and I work 36 hours a week as a waitress trying to make ends meet. Three weeks ago, life threw me a tremendous curve ball that would change my life forever...
It was a typical Monday for me, we were on fall break, and I finally had a day off from work to get some neglected household chores and errands accomplished. After mastering the tasks at hand, I decided to spend some time with my mom who lives ten minutes down the road from me. We spent a while playing catch up in the kitchen while she was preparing dinner, and then the topic got serious. One of my roommates and I had been having the typical college roommate issues, and I wanted to vent to my mother.
I had never been able to handle stressful situations well, and in high school I was diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder, after a serious of frequent panic attacks. This situation was no different, and my mom began to notice my blood pressure rising by the redness in my face. So to avoid another panic attack, she had me take out the trash to calm down.
That's when it all changed...
I stood up from the dining room table, and felt the room around me spin. Light headed and dizzy, I walked to the kitchen's pantry. I grabbed the trash bag and pulled it out, when I suddenly felt my arm fall asleep. My fingers felt numb against the plastic as I proceeded dizzily down the hallway to the garage. I was almost to the garbage can when my legs buckled out from under me. I quickly picked myself up off the cold concrete floor, and stumbled back inside. My lips and tongue felt oddly numb like I'd taken some really strong novacaine. My mom rushed towards me, and when she asked me what was wrong I couldn't respond. It sounded like gibberish, and that's when the panic broke out.
My mom asked me to go lay down as she thought it was another panic attack. My speech came back briefly "I think I'm having a stroke," I said to her. She insisted that I continue to lay down to sleep off the "panic attack". The next day my speech was worse, and I couldn't feel my right side. My mother then decided to take me to the doctor. After a couple of hours, I was given the diagnosis "Bells Palsy", a stroke like illness that usually goes away on its own without therapy. However, the doctor wanted to do an MRI scan just to make sure. It was upon looking at that MRI scan that my life was saved that day. The doctors concluded that it was not a panic attack, nor Bell's Palsy, but in fact a stroke.
I was immediately rushed to Middle Tennessee Medical Center for further treatment. The doctors were all really nice, and the best part was the room service. They explained that the stroke had caused damage to the left side of my brain, caused by a tiny blood clot, a millimeter from my processing core in my brain. I was extremely lucky it had only affected my speech, the use of my right hand, and walking. I was amazed by the outpour of visitors, phone calls, cards, baskets, and flowers I had received by those that knew me. I felt incredibly blessed. After only three days in the hospital and various procedures, I was released from the hospital to go home. My mom made me move back in with her for a few weeks, but at least I was in my own bed.
I am currently still living with my mom and little brother Mason. Unfortunately, I had to take a medical leave of absence from school, but I am able to return in the spring. I attend physical, occupational, and speech therapy three times a week, and there is daily progress being made every day. After all, you have to celebrate every little victory before you can celebrate the war. The doctor's have even given me the go ahead on starting back to work this week. I am even beginning to drive again.
Through this it has taught me many lessons, and brought my family and loved ones closer together. I think what I am most thankful for is the healing and restoration it has brought forth for not just myself, but for others as well. I appreciate the sweet and precious time on earth, and thank God every day for giving me a second chance. Everything has a purpose, and there is a bigger plan for me than I have for myself. I hope that my story can give hope and healing for those who need it most, whether that be other survivors or families and friends that have lost a loved one due to stroke. You are in my thoughts and prayers.