James F.

Photo of James F.

I am … a Survivor.

The morning of the 3rd of March 2016.  I was driving to work and was within a mile of work at a stop light when it all started.  I was getting a pain in my neck I closed my eyes and when I opened them everything was floating around.  I was still able to see but it was the moment vertigo was kicking in.  I didn’t think anything of it at the time and figured I would get better by the time I was at work.  I drove to work, in an industrial area, very slowly.  Once I arrived at work I stepped out of my vehicle, and boom felt like I got hit with a sledge hammer.  I couldn’t walk a straight line, more like the drunkest guy you have ever seen.  I stumbled my way into the break room where I set down my phone and keys.  I bounced off walls to where we clock in, still thinking I’ll shake it off.  I sat down for a moment to get my bearings, when I was hit again.  This time my entire left side went paralysis, I violently vomited fell to the floor, my throat swelled up and I could barely speak.  I was “yelling” for help but it was more like a normal voice but scratchy.  My boss was luckily at work an hour early that morning, and he came around the corner wondering what was wrong.  That’s when I said call 911, I do not know what is wrong.

A little back ground, I’m 39-year-old male, do not drink, do not smoke and eat healthy.  I was in training to run a marathon in New Mexico, called the Bataan Memorial Death March (www.bataanmarch.com).  I just did a nice 5 mile run the night before and was feeling great.  I did not know #FAST or anything about stroke.  My co-workers knew me as the crazy fit guy, always talking about races and eating healthy.

My boss called 911 and tried to keep me calm, I couldn’t even swallow my own saliva.  It felt like eternity but the paramedics and fire fighters showed up.  I was able to tell them what time 6:55 am that the first signs began.  I was asked several times what kind of drugs are you on.  It had not occurred to them that I was having a stroke.  After I was loaded in the bus (ambulance), I remember hearing one of the fire fighters say “Looks like he’s having a stroke.”  This is when I swear I saw light bulbs above the medic’s heads, like crap why didn’t we think of that.  Now I’m starting to have face droop and my speech was nearly gone.  I was rushed to University of Colorado Hospital, the best ER for stroke in Colorado.  If I remember correctly, even if not it makes a good story, I was the only critical ER patient in the ER that morning.  I also had every Nero doctor available working on me including residents and med students.  I look back and feel like I was a president or something.  After an MRI and a couple CAT scans they suggested that I am administered the tPA drug (Clot Buster).  They said it will save me or kill me, those are my words on how I intermitted what they were saying.  So the last conscious thing that day is I was lying in a bed and I took a selfie and posted to facebook; “This just happened, had a stroke.”.  This is how most of my friends and family found out.  My boss tried calling my girlfriend but she was in a meeting in Washington D.C.  Funny thing is she wouldn’t answer but she saw the notification of my stroke.  So that is the beginning of my new life.  I now can walk, talk and try to enjoy life again.  Not able to run, cannot yell, ataxia in my left arm, balance is horrible and I have a hard time thinking.  I am grateful for everything and everyone that helped save my life.  I could go on and on that’s why I have a blog, visit it at www.strokewhatstroke.com.