Gina M.

Photo of Gina M.

I am … a Survivor.

It was around Noon on July 25, 2016 when I felt something in my throat that I tried to clear it and a strange sound came out like a dying dog.  I shook it off and then I started hiccupping and my arms and legs felt heavy and a headaches set in the next day.  I tried drinking water, holding my breath for the hiccups, that didn’t work but they would come and go through the day.  Around the afternoon I thought I saw a man backyard – hallucination – I just though it was because of the headache and I had nausea again I thought because of the headache.  By nighttime I had strange feeling, as something was going to happen I felt anxious, which I never had before.  So I stayed up all night, I updated my Mom manual just in case something happened to me I wanted it to be updated especially since my sister had just left that day for a 12 day vacation out of the country and she is my Mom’s secondary Caregiver who has Alzheimer’s, which I am the primary.

Wednesday July 27, 2016, I saw the sunrise from my window and at 7am I fell asleep, I woke up at 10am my room looked gray I knew I was in my room but it looked strange.  I knew I had to put on clothes but I put on another set of pjs, I knew that was wrong but didn’t know why I did that I managed to put on clothes I set aside the night before.  I managed to grab my phone, charger and purse and make myself down the stairs, now thinking about not sure how.  By the grace of God’s my Mom’s was dressed which doesn’t happen, I got her coffee and bagel ready and her medicine I told her to eat fast, she did. I packed her lunch bag with water, juice and snacks and get game book.  I thought to call 911 but I thought they would take me to the hospital 2 miles from me and well that hospital doesn’t have good reputation. Before we left the house I popped an aspirin just in case.  We uber it, I know I shouldn’t had done it but I wasn’t in my right mind, told the uber drive to take us urgent care thinking it was migraine they were closed so he took us to the hospital I wanted to go to.  When we got through the doors they pulled out a wheelchair for me and I was in an ER room within 10 minutes after checking in.  While we were in the uber I text my cousin who is our respite caregiver for my Mom and told her what was happening and she rushed down.  I was asked if I spoke with an accent (I didn’t hear it) and I replied with  “No, I’m an American” and they laughed, then the ER Doctor was given my form I filled out when I check in and well apparently it looked like a 5 year old filled out then he said they needed to MRI.   Not much later after they perform the MRI the ER Doctor, Neurologist and RN came to tell me that I had a small stroke.  That’s when I broke down and my cousin held me and I cried for my sister.  Then my cousin told me it was time to tell my brother, nephew, niece and father and I said okay and she took care of it.  I would then spend the next five days in the hospital working on my physical, occupational, speech therapies with the therapists.  The Doctors and Neurologist said I should make a full recovery because I have my age to my advantage.  It’s now been two weeks since my life changed and I keep learning lessons.

So far these past two weeks I’ve learned 7 important lessons.  My first lesson I learned, call 911 no matter what and like the doctors at the hospital told me I can demand the paramedics to take me to them by telling them they are stroke unit hospital and my records are there.  Second lesson although I didn’t learn this to almost 2 weeks later is there are different unique stroke signs for women because I did check to see what the signs where before at night while I was awake and I didn’t have any of them. The unique sings for women are hiccupping, hallucination, nausea or vomiting pain, and more.  Lesson three that I need to prepare a me manual like I keep for my Mom.  Lesson four I need to make time for myself as caregiving someone with Alzheimer’s is extremely stressful.  Lesson five I have to keep active.  Lesson six, vegetables are my friends.  And so far the hardest of them Lesson seven, I’m not really Super Woman, I need help.

Gina M.

39 years old