Post-Partum Stroke Survivor
I gave birth to a baby boy on November 4, 2011. Ten days later, on November 14, I had a stroke. It felt like any other day as a new mom. I was exhausted and having a very hard time breastfeeding. I had a bit of a headache so I took the Lortab that had been prescribed to me for c-section pain. A little while later I was remarking to my husband that my legs felt funny which I attributed to the painkillers. I told him that I wouldn't take those again because they made me feel so weak. I mentioned to him that it felt like my brain was telling my legs to walk but they weren't listening correctly. I was only 37 and had no idea that I could be having a stroke. It didn't even cross my mind. Late in the afternoon, I went over to the changing table to change the baby and screamed for my husband that I couldn't pick the baby up because my arms were weak. At that point my arm started twitching uncontrollably at the shoulder. Again, we still had no idea what was happening because we didn't know the symptoms. Everyone thought that I was just really exhausted and dehydrated and was maybe having a muscle spasm. My mother-in-law came over to help with the baby and I was told to rest. I rested on the couch and then got up to use the bathroom. At that point my legs were almost too weak to walk and I lost control of my bladder. I started saying let's go to the hospital and then I realized I was feeling really confused. A moment later I had a grand mal seizure. My husband called 911. The EMTs were asking me my son's name and I was saying names that we had considered but not his actual name and I knew something was really wrong.
I was rushed to the ER at the hospital where I gave birth because the EMTs thought maybe it was related to the c-section. There I suffered another seizure and no one knew what was happening. They guessed epidural abcess and I was pumped with antibiotics. They then sent me to another hospital for an MRI because the CT without contrast wasn't conclusive. At this point I was pretty out of it and deteriorating rapidly. I had lost use of my limbs.
Luckily at this hospital the MRI showed that I had a cerebral venous sinus thrombosis with multiple hemmorhages and I was rushed to a stroke center immediately. It was almost too late. The doctors at the stroke center said they had to do a thrombectomy within minutes or I would die. They did that procedure and it didn't work as well as they hoped. It was way past the timing for tPa but my husband was told by a neurosurgeon "if it's my wife I'd have her on the table right now". So they did about three rounds of it over the course of hours/days and it WORKED!
I spent 10 days in the ICU, a week on a step down floor and then another week in rehab. I am so lucky to be alive! Thanks to the fantastic team at UB Neurosurgery at Buffalo General Hospital (Gates Vascular Institute) not only am I alive but I have no deficits. I still have a blood clot in my brain but hopefully with continued blood thinners it may continue to get smaller and eventually be gone. I was able to spend Christmas, New Year's, Valentine's Day, Easter, and Mother's Day with my husband and beautiful baby boy. Everyday is a gift.