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Jodi C.
Jodi C.
Survivor

Tracey E.
Tracey E.
Survivor

Bernard R.
Bernard R.
Survivor

Elizabeth H.
Elizabeth H.
Survivor

Shannon A.
Shannon A.
Family

Dreamor T.


Survivor

The day surviving was the only option!

I was 27 years old and pregnant. An aneurism and stroke changed my life forever!

It was March 3rd 2011 and I woke up and stood up with a round belly. I was about 27 or 28 weeks pregnant with our second child. We found out on our one year wedding anniversary just days before that we were having another girl.

My feet felt as though there were needles being stuck in them but I was told that was fine and the doctor didn't seem to think there was anything wrong with it. A week before that I had gotten very dizzy in the office. I was considered high risk for pre-term delivery because I had to have some of my cervix removed in 2006 due to pre-cancerous cells. I was lucky it was discovered because another 5 years and I would have had cancer. Since my cervix was shorter than usual I could dilate more easily and go into pre-mature labor so I was being seen weekly throughout both of my pregnancies.

When I got dizzy the doctor thought it was the room I was waiting in which had a tendency to get hot during the day. I drank some water and rested a while then returned to work. Before I left my doctor said something to me that may have saved my life. If I had any change in vision to call right away.

Well on the 3rd I had called in sick to work. I had horrible morning sickness my entire pregnancy so decided not to push myself and call in to work sick. It was about 10 in the morning. Nathan, my husband was in the living room with our daughter Lexi and I was just walking out of the bathroom when suddenly I realized I couldn't see anything. I began to panic and thought to myself I must be imagining this. I walked to my bed to find my phone and couldn't find it. I screamed out for Nathan and told him to get my phone and call the Doctor right away. He handed me the phone and I had to leave a message. I told him I couldn't see and was scared so for him or the nurse to call me back as soon as possible. I got a phone call right back and Nathan had to answer because at this point I was hunched over the bath tub throwing up violently.

The doctor told Nathan to take me to the emergency room right away. I told myself not to panic because I needed Nathan to stay calm. Nathan grabbed Lexi, our daughter and I put on some shoes. I don't remember what shoes I put on but I do remember Nathan asking if I could make it downstairs. I told him as calmly as I could I would be fine and he should just worry about getting Lexi downstairs. She was 15 months and I was so worried about her it kept me level headed. Once we got out the garage I remember getting myself in the car and then the next memory I have is waking up in a hospital room with Nathan's family standing around me.

I still was disoriented but remember seeing all the relief in everyone's faces when I cracked a bad joke to the nurse next to me. I guess it is just my nature to use humor to calm those around me and not even know it. I later found out the details. I was rushed into the emergency room screaming to make it stop while holding my head in pain. Apparently I was experiencing a horrific headache. They rushed me into to emergency brain surgery. My eyes were so dilated you could not see color in them and the doctor's saw little hope. They had assembled the emergency cesarean team so when I began to code they could cut my daughter from my womb to resuscitate me. They allowed Nathan to see me before they started surgery and just before they were about to shave my head. The nurse was honest with him and told him they were going to do their best but showing him the CT scan pointed out how large the problem was for him. It was a massive blood clot the size of a softball taking up about twenty five percent of my brain. She went to leave him alone and told him or asked him if he would like to say goodbye to his wife. At this point in the story I realize something. I married someone as stubborn as myself because he refused to say goodbye.

Hours later the surgery was complete. Right before they believed I was going to code the doctor decided to give me just a little longer with the scalpel ready to take my precious Scarlett from my belly but suddenly I began to stabilize. The strange thing is I heard someone in there tell me to stay awake because Nathan needs you to not go to sleep. The reason this is so strange is when I told him this he looked at me and told me something that put chills on my body. Shortly after I had arrived at the hospital they had induced me into a coma so there is no way I could have heard someone say that plus the only ones in the room during surgery were doctors and nurses. To them Nathan was just my husband. People can believe or think whatever they want and whatever suits them but as for me I can say with certainty that I heard a voice.

When I woke from my coma I don't remember much but I was aware that I looked like a mummy. It would take a while for me to grasp the magnitude of my situation. I couldn't move my left foot and barely my left leg and arm. The doctor came in and told me it may be up to a year before I could walk and I would be in the ICU for a few months depending on how fast I recovered. I could barely sit up in a wheel chair. If you remember me saying I was stubborn well it was evident those next two weeks. They had post on my bed that would beep if I tried to get out of bed but that didn't stop me. I didn't want to be a prisoner and I knew what was needed to get home. I tried to get out many times and a couple of times I fell. One time was especially traumatic because I didn't know I had a catheter in and I got urine everywhere. Even thinking of it makes me tear up. I had rehab cognitive and physical rehab everyday and pushed myself hard. I listened to what I was told like my life depended on it and one week later I was able to stand with a walker and one more week later I was able to walk with the walker. I looked like a 90 year old lady but I walked out of that room bound for home just two and a half weeks after my aneurism burst that day in March.

As of today I have difficulty with a lot of things. It feels like a line has been drawn down my middle and my left side is hypersensitive to touch. I lost my left peripheral vision in both eyes and am legally blind but my vision somehow is 20/25. I am sensitive to lights and have to wear sunglasses all the time. I have also developed epilepsy. It takes me a long time to do everything but at least I don't fall anymore just trying to put clothes on and I don't put them on backwards anymore.

After I left the hospital I actually had to go back in a few times. I was having problems with tremors. It took some time to figure out what was causing them. Since I was pregnant they thought maybe I was developing gestational diabetes but it turns out that the part of my brain that was the source of the hemorrhaging was right where emotions like anxiety are controlled. After a lot of different medicines they finally were able to control the shaking with anxiety medicine. About the time the shaking started I also felt like I had a red hot pain shoot through my right arm like electricity. They were never able to determine the cause but after the anxiety tremors were controlled the flashes of pain stopped. My left leg still shakes randomly but it's not nearly as noticeable. The feeling in my left side is just so different from what it used to be. Some spots are numb and I can't feel anything and others are extra sensitive. The closest thing I can think of to describe it is when your leg falls asleep or you sleep funny on your arm and when you wake up it tingles and you have to shake it.

Ultimately there are a lot of little things that I can live with because I get to wake up every day and see two beautiful smiles staring at me that I very nearly lost. I finished my last 2 graduate classes in the hospital and while meeting all the requirements took a lot longer I graduated with my Master degree.

The thing I take out of this and basically all of my experiences are that you can't change a situation that is out of your control. If you do everything in your power then all that's left is changing your perception and that can make a bad situation better.

 

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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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