Kendall B

Photo of Kendall B

I am … a Survivor.

My name is Kendall  Bays and I am a stroke survivor! I had a stroke at 20 years old! I love the person that I have become because of the stroke that I suffered!

On April 3, 2008 I suffered a pulmonary embolism that threw me into a watershed stroke, and 3 cardiac arrests. I have the Factor 5 blood clotting chromosome. At the time I was 20 years of age. I had chest pains for two weeks prior to that day, but was not going to go to the emergency room because at the time, I didn’t have any health insurance. The day before, April 2, I knew something just was wrong. I called my sister, she was doing just fine. Called my dad and saw him,he was doing alright too. The funny part is I kinda had a feeling like when my mom had clots a few years back. Like the feeling that I had just heard about it. I called her and she was doing well. So I went on with my day. I went to work, a friends house after, then home. The next day, April 3rd was a Thursday. Thursdays I didn’t have school so I slept in, went to the gym, then tanning. Not this morning, I remember waking up I think after ten and I got into my gym clothes. I don’t remember much after that except for calling my mom at work. I have no idea what I said, I just remember her saying “I’ll be right there” I went to my room to lay down and I had either fallen asleep or was going in and out of consciousness because I heard my mom knocking on my bedroom window, I went to get up and I said “I’ll be right there” and I fell. My mom heard me hit the floor.She called my dad in a panic,but he works 15 minutes away, so 15 minutes goes by with me on the floor with who knows whats happening to my body.

My dad finally arrives and they get to me and they see that I’m pretty messed up. They get 911 called, paramedics arrive. Keep in mind I have no recollection of this. I went into my first cardiac arrest when they got me in the ambulance and my parents beat them to the hospital. With two more cardiac arrests at the hospital I had some paramedics and the hospital life flight crew saving my life. With my family watching. I was put into a coma for about 4 days . With family and friends near. People that I had never met were hearing of my injury. The day I remember waking up I could see, but the next day my vision was gone. I just had no idea. My doctors were really looking to find what was going on. They had never seen my age of patient have a stroke that had vision loss. On top of all that I lost everything speech, movement. I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t move or walk…….everything I lost…. except for my will to get better, to smile, laugh, and to fight what happened to me.I spent 33 days at the Wyoming Medical Center in Wyoming then I got one of the greatest chanses of a life time in my situation. I got to go to Craig Rehab Hospital in Colorado. I didn’t want to go at first, but I soon adapted well. This place earns its name of  being top ranking for neuro rehab hospitals. I spent two months at Craig. It was intense, but I’m where I am because of Craig. Between Physical, Occupational, Speech, and Recreational therapies I had a full day. I even asked for more pt just to get even stronger. I loved Monday nights when a local Denver Newfoundland Dog Club would bring in the dogs. I had never seen that sort of dog. They are HUGE!! I would get 3 or 4 in my room and they would just drool !!! I loooove it!! Also several people would bring in  different service dogs that were just so awesome. They really brought up peoples moods and made me smile. I loved the activities there. Wheelchair hockey, making smoothies, facials,painting. I can’t believe it but they actually took us hot air ballooning!!! 9 of us went and I was the only one not in a wheelchair or jerry  chair.

Throughout this injury and the Wyoming Medical Center and Craig Rehab and therapy here at home I have met THE MOST AMAZING  AND INSPIRING PEOPLE. BOTH PATIENTS AND THOSE THAT ARE HELPING ME WITH MY RECOVERY. I don’t regret anything and I believe things happen for a reason. This threw me so far yet so in tune with how real life is because I can recall what I was doing right before what could have been my last breath.

This April 3, 2016 will mark 8 years since my stroke and I think I would say that I am doing well. I am so very grateful that I am able to be upright and to walk and do most everything on my own. My vision is still improving and that is so awesome! I still cannot drive and that takes away so much independence. Most of my friends have turned their backs on me. I know that may sound sour or bitter, but it is the situation I am in. I am trying to stay as positive as possible! The job situation has not gone too well. Employers are not responding well to my vision impairment even though I try my best. I have been discriminated against for just simply trying to go back to work after a life altering injury! It is very, very tough! I haven’t lost my smile, positive outlook, or drive to keep going! On the other hand I have been painting and I have a little dog her name is Tanzy. She has brought me a ton of companionship. I have been advocating for stroke and stroke awareness!!!!  In my hometown and nationally! I’m ready to advocate for stroke worldwide! Stroke does not discriminate!