Flannery M.

Photo of Flannery M.

I am … a Survivor.

May 13, 2015, a day I will remember until I die or my memory fails entirely.  I will remember that it was a Wednesday near the end of my middle school career, three days before my 13th birthday. That morning I woke up at 4:30 and completed packing for the three-day camping trip I was to join my eighth-grade class on that day.  I ate a quick breakfast of Honey Nut Cheerios and a whole grapefruit. In my hurry, I somehow managed to forget one of the most crucial items I would need for the trip; I forgot my water bottle.  I hopped in my father’s silver pick-up truck, and we drove the ten minutes it took to get from my house to Ridgway Secondary School.  When I arrived on My school’s campus, I immediately spotted some of my classmates carrying their assorted baggage, mostly colorful duffle bags, towards the front door.  I nearly asked my father if he would drive me home, wanting to skip the trip altogether.  I eventually toughened up and followed my classmates towards the door. We were to have the final gear check before leaving. It wasn’t until halfway through the gear check that I realized I did not have my water bottle. Luckily, my best friend lived near the school, and her dad was chaperoning the trip. He ran to his house to get a water bottle for me to borrow.  We boarded the bus and took off towards Moab, Utah.  I remember each and every song I heard during the ride, but I won’t list them all.  Once in Moab, We took an hour long hike. On the hike, I quickly ran out of water and developed a slight headache, nothing serious, or so I thought.  We got back on the bus and headed towards camp; we ate our lunches on the bus. I had a Peanut butter and jelly sandwich and lemonade; both were sampled by my friend sitting behind me.  Once we got to our campsite, we set up our tents and ate a dinner of pasta salad, which was disgusting, and chicken.  After dinner, I shoot some video clips for a video I planned to make during the trip.  There was to be a bonfire shortly, so My tent mates and I decided to change our shoes.  We were running through a creek bed to where the fire was, and suddenly I felt the most severe pain I can imagine on the right side of my head. I thought someone had hit me in the head with a newly sharpened ax. My vision was gone for the most part.  I climbed out of the creek bed and sat down on a trailer with some help from my friends.  I was complaining of a headache and having to use the restroom. I grew tired and decided to lay down. When I tried to get up, I realized that I could not. All of the adults and my fellow students attempted to get me up, with little luck until my best friends dad, the one who got me a water bottle before we left, along with another chaperone and the bus driver got me up and placed me in the bed of a truck.  I fell asleep in the truck.  They drove me to the clinic in Moab, where they gave me a CT scan and loaded me into a helicopter headed to Salt Lake City.   I woke up in a hospital room at the University of Utah hospital, where I nearly had to have a brain surgery which would have required part of my brain in a freezer for six weeks.   I was paralyzed on my left side for one or two weeks.  I had to learn to walk, eat, and use my left side again. I was in the hospital for a little bit more than a month.

After leaving Utah, my care was transferred to Children’s Hospital Colorado, where it was discovered that my stroke had been caused by CNS vasculitis. I still visit my doctor, Dr. Timothy Bernard, every six months. More than a year and a half later, I am mostly back to normal except for some personality changes and left-sided weakness.