Never give up
Young adult stroke survivor who inspires others by leading by example
age 37, I envisioned my whole life ahead of me as I was planning my wedding to
Michael, the man of my dreams. I was
successful at my job as a sales representative at a golf resort. I was physically active, for fun I played
co-ed softball, golf, and tennis. My
life quickly changed in an instant. One
quiet morning, I would leave my old life as I knew it behind and begin my life
over struggling to survive as a stroke survivor.
months prior to my wedding, I had a hemorrhagic stroke causing paralysis on my
left side. I had no known stroke risk factors.
No family history of stroke, blood pressure was normal, healthy
cholesterol, didn’t do drugs, not on birth control pills, and was not
took a break and I sat on the couch, I started to feel immediate fatigue. My head was just not right. It started to hurt more. My thought was that this feeling would pass
soon enough. Warning sign #2.
got up and started to walk again.
However, this time I stopped and just stood there. I looked down at my feet in disbelief. This out of body sensation took over. Literally I felt like I was watching all of
this transpire from the outside looking in.
I described to Michael that I was looking down at my left foot but I
could not feel it. The sensation quickly
traveled up the left side of my body. I could not feel it. It was like it went
to sleep without the pins and needles feeling.
Something was terribly wrong.
“Help me!” I exclaimed. Warning
started putting all the pieces of the puzzle together. He sat me back down, looked at me and asked
me to smile. He could see the left side
of my facial muscles was not equal to my right side. Then he asked me to speak. He knew something was wrong. Warning sign #4.
said to me, “Karen, everything you’re telling me says you’re having a
stroke!” This all took less than 5
SAVED MY LIFE that day by recognizing that I was having a stroke. There was no doubt in his mind. He wasted no time getting me to the emergency
room. A CT Scan revealed I was bleeding
in my brain. I was having a hemorrhagic
stroke. Strokes do not discriminate by
age or race. They can happen to
stroke took many things from me including my lower left quadrant vision. It left me without feeling on my entire left
side including in my left hand, I had to learn to walk again and I still have a
small limp. With hard work,
determination, and complete love and support from my husband Michael, I was
able to walk down the aisle four months later on our wedding day.
later asked Michael how he knew I was having a stroke. He replied that he read it somewhere but he
doesn’t recall where. Only that
somewhere he remembered that lifesaving bit of information that he stored in
his memory. I say that because
everything we do to raise awareness stroke adds up. Even if it’s one person we touch, that one person
could save a life someday. And it could
be YOUR life. Or YOU could save someone
media has been a great tool throughout my recovery efforts. During my journey on the road to recovery, I
founded a support group for young adult stroke survivors called
Please join us. Nearly a thousand
of young adult stroke survivors from around the world encourage each other
online with our goals and successes. We
are also available on Twitter @Stroke_Survior, and Pinterest.
this day, I do public speaking throughout my community educating others about
the warning signs of stroke including controllable risk factors in order to
save lives. The focus is not just about
Stroke month in May, it's about every month and every life.
a voice for the millions of stroke survivors and their families is very
important to me. That’s why I was proud
to join the Stroke Advocacy Network. We
take action on healthcare items that are important on the local and national levels
that affects everyone in the stroke community.
Our lives and future generations depend on us. It’s rewarding to be an advocate and the
National Stroke Association makes it easy.
I still work on my recovery? Every
day!! I stay very active with my gym
membership. My goal is to work out 4-5
times a week and do physical events such as 5K’s, 10K’s or even half marathons.
This year was the second time I completed The Big Climb in Seattle up Columbia
Tower (69 flights and 1,311 steps). I
believe there is no finish line. I’m
always looking for ‘what’s next’ and challenge others to join me. It's not about my time, it's about my finish.
do you recognize a stroke? Remember
Time call 9-1-1 immediately
make it your mission to educate yourself on the warning signs of stroke so you
can be there for the ones you love. And make it your mission to educate the
ones you love so they can be there for you.
Dionne, Stroke Survivor