I survived a massive stroke
My name is Janet, I was 52 years old at the time and my story all starts with a breast reduction surgery scheduled on November 10, 2009. My surgery happened without incident. I went home to start my recovery. I went to my follow up appointment and my only complaint was that I was so tired. I started noticing my heart beat speeding up and then slowing back down. I finally mentioned this to my daughter, who is a paramedic, and she told me to get it checked out right away as it could be atrial fibrillation (A Fib). Being the typical Mom, I said "if it's still doing it on Monday I'll go to the doctor." She warned me that this is not normal and that I could "stroke out" and to please go now.
On Friday, November 20, 2009 this is exactly what happened. I got up that morning feeling so much better, got a shower, fixed my hair and make-up and put on clothes, instead of sweats. I was sitting watching the food channel with my daughter-in-law when it happened. She had made a comment about the show and she tells me I just glared at her. She was sitting to my left and couldn't see what had happened. Just a minute or two later my husband came walking through and turned to tell me he was going to put up Christmas lights since it was such good weather. He took one look at me and announced that I had had a stroke. He recognized the symptoms; facial drooping, right arm and leg paralysis, and the inability to speak. He told our daughter-in-law to call 911 and while he called our daughter.
I had suffered a massive stroke that occurred in the MCA. I was still aware of everything going on around me and could comprehend but couldn't respond at all, as the stroke had affected my speech center. Paramedics arrived very quickly. When they tried to help me move to the cot I resisted, wanting to do it myself. They finally allowed me to stand up, while they supported my right side, and then sit on the cot. I remember them wheeling me out the front door, down the drive way and worrying about what the neighbors must be thinking. I mapped the route we took to the hospital in my mind, knowing exactly what intersection we were at, corners we took, etc. I remember having tests done at the hospital, questions being answered by my husband, daughter and daughter-in-law, seeing nurses, doctors and even a couple visitors. I remember taking deep breaths a lot. My daughter told me later the deep sighs and yawning are also a symptom from the stroke.
The doctor talked to my husband and daughter about my options. I was not aware of this part until later. The doctor advised them they had 3 options; one, to leave me alone and see if I would recover on my own; two, to give me TPA, which is normally use for stroke victims (remember I had just had a major surgery and could bleed out if they did this); and three, they could try going into my groin, through my heart, to my brain and put the medication directly on the clot. They discussed it and decided even with the additional risks they knew I would not be happy with the other 2 options. Choice number 3 it was.
I remembered them loading me back into the ambulance and being told they had to transfer me to another hospital. My daughter rode with me. I then remember being wheeled into a room with an entire wall of flat panel monitors. I remember looking over my left shoulder, above my head, and seeing people walking around in surgical gear. I was told later that I wouldn't stay still so they had to knock me out to complete the procedure.
The next thing I remember was hearing a strange women telling me I had a pen in my hand and to write my name. I ignored her. My daughter then grabbed my hand and told me, very sternly, to write my name. She guided my hand to a piece of paper with the pen in my hand and I wrote my name with my right hand, the one that was paralyzed approximately 6 hours earlier. I remember her telling me "good job Mom". I remember slowly waking up and my daughter is telling me to stop pulling at the breathing tube in my mouth. I didn't really understand what was going on at this point. I finally woke up, they removed the tube and I started asking questions. My daughter filled me in. When I first tried eating, I noticed my hand shaking a bit as I got close to my mouth. By the next day most of the shaking was gone.
I was released from the hospital on Tuesday morning to go home, 4 days after suffering the massive stroke. I was scheduled for a rehab assessment. I went to the appointment and they told me there was nothing they could do for me as I had no residual deficits from the stroke and that I am a walking, talking, miracle woman. I do experience minor issues that I deal with like short term memory, and a slight balance problem.
I returned to work the week between Christmas and New Years on 1/2 days and back to full time the 1st of the year. I am so thankful each day knowing it could have been a very different outcome. Thanks to the quick actions taken by my family, the immediate response time and care from the paramedics, and the care I received from the nurses and doctors at the hospital I am living a full and robust life. I am able to talk about this, write about this and hopefully inspire others with my story. Learn to recognize the signs, symptoms and act quickly.