Javier G.

Photo of Javier G.

I am … a Survivor.

Buenos Aires, Argentina. Sunday April 20th 2014. Age 31.

I woke up to an excruciating pain in the right side of my head. The pain was so unbearable as if a truck would have hit my head. I headed to the kitchen where my parents were having breakfast to ask for a ibuprofen or something of that sort. While I was asking for this, they noticed my slurred speech and that something was not right with me. They called the ambulance right away.

5 minutes after that call my left body side went totally paralyzed. I literally had a dead piece of flesh hanging down my left shoulder and left thigh which I had no control over whatsoever. Telling your brain to move your leg to no avail was the most horrifying and scary thing I had ever experienced.

15 minutes after they called the ambulance arrives and I’m rushed to ICU. During the ride from my house to the hospital I experienced something quite unique: I always had a very high degree of consciousness and self awareness. I could touch my insensitive left hand with my right hand and because of lack of sensitivity on my left hand, I could feel with my right hand what other people feel when they touch my hand. To my surprise, I discovered that my hand´s anatomy and skin feel was almost identical to my father’s.

When I arrived to the hospital I was immediately sent to the CT Scanner. Due to this high degree of consciousness and big passion for technology, I was captivated by the scanner’s lasers spinning around my head. After the scanner I was sent to another facility which I only recall being put in another equipment. Next thing I remember was waking up in the ICU (apparently) couple of hours later with sensors all over my body, a feeding catheter through my nose and a quite uncomfortable patch in my left groin as doctors went through my right femoral artery to my brain to stop the bleeding. When I had the chance to talk to the doctors and asked what happened, they told me “you had a spontaneous hemorrhage in your brain with no direct cause”. I remember sleeping and waking up several times. I felt groggy. Later my parents told me “doctors were concerned over your sleepiness because if you’d continue to sleep too much you could fall into a coma”. At that time I wasn’t aware of the seriousness of this situation. While in the ICU my parents told me a surgery room had been reserved for me because I wasn’t stopping bleeding. I fell asleep again and I woke up later to learn that the brain surgery that could have rendered me more crippled than I already was was cancelled because I miraculously stopped bleeding. Call it luck or GOD. Until this day I can firmly assert it was GOD’s will.

Anyways, this is just half the story. The other half continues as follows:

My condition improved slow but steadily as my blood pool in my right hemisphere kept getting smaller and pressing less areas of my brain. I spent about 10 days in the ICU and then I was transferred to a lesser risk patients’ room where I could have visitors.

I remember the first days in the room I experienced something quite disturbing: visitors’ chattering would make me upset as if my brain would get overstressed from handling language. I needed silence. Period.

During the course of the 15 days I was in my room, I had “Early Stimulation Occupational Therapy” in order to allow for the quickest neurons reconnection.It was pure pain. I mean MENTAL PAIN. Being asked to grab a napkin and doing the karate kid movie like movement of waxing and polishing over a table and seeing how crippled and unresponsive my left hand was felt like the strongest feeling of IMPOTENCY I ever felt in my life. It took me a TREMENDOUS amount of MENTAL EFFORT to command a hand that will only move one fucking inch.

These early stimulation sessions continued for every single morning during my 15 days stay at the hospital’s room.

When I was discharged from the hospital, I started the rehab process in a multidisciplinary facility which had kinesiologists, occupational therapists and speech therapists

During my rehab sessions I only had ONE goal: TO RECOVER. I always was very demanding with myself so I would not bear the fact that my limbs where useless. I had to do something about it !.

Until today I believe that the combination of being self demanding and having this lone goal of recovering plus the fact that NEVER DID I ASK MYSELF WHY ME WHY THIS WHY THAT, ultimately led to my recovery in JUST 6 MONTHS. Far shorter than most stokes’ prognosis.

Today I’m 95% recovered with only a minor strength reduction in my left forearm and instep and I play soccer every saturday with my friends.