I am … a Survivor.
I am Seanna and I am 31 years old. 6 years ago, 2 weeks shy of my 25th birthday, my entire life changed. I warn everyone now, this is a very, very long story. I woke up and it was a totally normal day. I had work at 3, so I did my normal every day things, got ready for work, said bye to my boyfriend and left. I had no idea it would be the last time I ever woke up normally and had a regular day again. I felt totally fine during work, we were super busy being the first week of the month and we were all rushing around of course. Well, running around caused me to slip in water and bash my leg on the concrete floor. It hurt SO bad, but I thought nothing of it, after a few moments I got up and walked it off and continued working until about 10:30 PM. When I got off work, I drove to my boyfriends moms to let the dog out and play with him for a little bit since they were away on business. It was a small, quiet neighborhood. It was just me and the dog hanging out for a while, then I drove to my moms house. I had promised my sister I would dye her hair and I was very close to my family anyways, so it was typical for me to head over at any time, even 11pm if my sister was off work the next day. I dyed my sisters hair and hung out for about 2 hours. It was 1am and I still had laundry to do. So I drove across town to my place. I walked from my drive way to my apartment (it was a HUGE old house with four apartments in it, I lived in an upstairs apartment with steps on the outside leading up). I walked in the door and put roommate was asleep on the couch and my boyfriend was In our bedroom asleep. I hurried up and changed into some ratty hoodie and sweatpants, gathered my clothes to take them to the basement to wash them. Our basement was down the outside (20) steps, around the side of the house, and down another 8 steps? I, again, was completely alone. I walk into the basement and go to put my clothes in the washer and almost have a heart attack because I see the biggest house centipede of my life. I hurried and took a picture and sent it to my sister, freaking out. Well, it took off and I went about my business. I walk back up into my apartment and I was pretty tired, but had to stay awake for my clothes, so I decided to play some Call of Duty on the Playstation. I hadnt played in a very long time. I got on and my sister, who also hadn’t played in months was coincidentally on. I was pretty excited (I’m a nerd) and we got on the headsets so we could talk to each other and we began playing some matches. We were talking and just started a new match and I had this weird rush over me. It felt so weird, I instantly stood up and said something was right and she said “what are you talking about?” and I knew it was bad and threw my headset off and went into the bedroom to get my boyfriend. I opened the bedroom door and told him I need to go to the emergency room, something is really wrong. I was pleading and begging him to help me, except… I wasn’t saying words to him at all. What came out of my mouth was complete gibberish. You literally couldn’t make out a single word I tried communicating. At that point, my brain was screaming at me… you HAVE to get to the hospital, now. So, I stumbled out of my bedroom door and darted for my keys in the living room, only to fall into the coffee table and knock my purse, keys, anything I had tried to grab, off of the table and I hit the floor. My boyfriend came running out and ran to me. I had crawled to the couch and was sitting up against it on the floor. I thought he was holding me down (turns out he was trying to hold me up). Our roommate had woke up at this point and sat there confused, as did my boyfriend. They were so confused and had no clue what to do. (Again, I was almost 25 and healthy, this made NO sense). So, Brian (my boyfriend) was trying to talk to me and trying to figure out what the hell was wrong with me. He didn’t know if I weirdly decided to get drunk? If I was having a mental breakdown.. if I was messing around.. but I knew sitting there was doing nothing and I was apparently being loud and screaming. It was at this point, 2 AM and we had neighbors on the other side of the wall and downstairs. He was so confused and couldn’t rationalize what was happening and kept telling me to quiet down or the cops were going to come. Not even a minute later, you hear a bang on the door and he goes “GREAT, the police are here” and in my mind I was thanking God they were because I desperately needed help. I crawled through the kitchen to the door but couldnt open it and he did. It was my mom and my sister. They raced across town to my apartment. Apparently, the headset was still on and my sister could hear me screaming. She thought I saw another centipede, then after it wasnt stopping, she thought maybe I was being murdered? She tried calling me over and over and I didn’t answer. So she woke my mom up and said “we need to go to Seanna now! Something is wrong!”. My sister said they got into her car and flew across town, running red lights and everything. They could hear me screaming from the driveway as well (which was a good 50 yards from my apartment). They ran up the steps and here we are back to us opening the door. My mom dropped to the floor with me and was trying to get me to speak to her. I could not say a single word. I motioned with my left arm, to write, thinking I could write it down…. boy was I wrong. They handed me a pen (i am right handed) and it fell straight through my fingers. I couldn’t use my hand at all either. My mom said at that moment she knew something was horribly wrong and had thought about a stroke for a second, but it made no sense. I was so young and healthy… At that point they called 911. The operator got information from my boyfriend and asked if I was on drugs. He said “NO, she doesn’t do drugs, she doesnt even smoke marijuana and rarely even drinks” and tbe operator didnt believe him. She kept interrogating , putting him on hold, and then asking about drugs again and again. He hung up on her and said let’s take her ourselves. I know a long time had passed during everything, but not sure how much time. So we decided on going to the ER ourselves. Well, I have 20 wooden steps to get down and then at least 50 yards to walk to get to our vehicles…. but no way was I dying, so.. I scooted myself (half paralyzed) down these steps, with help from my family.. and then they helped me walk by being on either side and basically drug and carried me down the yard to a car. Finally, my sister sees the ambulance come and she leads the paramedics to me. I’m slumped in the passenger seat of my car at this point. The paramedics were these two ladies. The main lady who spoke the whole time was horrible. She kept questioning me ABOUT drugs. Asked me my name, birthday, etc and I could not slur out anything or give them any info. They took my BP and it was a little high from being worked up.. but normal/borderline good. So they dont bring a stretcher to me, they say to walk to the ambulance… so my boyfriend and sister had to again, get on either side and walk for me to the ambulance.. and then they make me CLIMB in the back of it myself. I was paralyzed on one side. I couldn’t do it, so again, my family had to lift me into it and get me onto the stretcher. The paramedics were still assuming I was on drugs and being horribly nasty to all of us. So, I’m on the stretcher and alone. I remember the trip like it happened yesterday. The hospital was across our very small town (which stretches maybe 1-2 miles) right across from my moms house actually. This trip takes no time at all at any time. Theres a highway that goes from right over the hill from my house to right below the hospital. This horrible woman did not take the highway to get me to the hospital, she took all of the back roads and did not even rush. My family said they were there for 5 minutes before the ambulance arrived. I still remember the exact route they took. Instead of going straight to the highway at 3 am? When no one was even out, they cost me 10-15 extra minutes in my very small window of time. It literally could have taken them 2 minutes had they got onto the main roads and went above the speed limit. They took their good old time. Anyways, we pull up to the emergency entrance and they open the doors on the ambulance. The very mean EMT says “can you get out and walk yourself or do I have to push you in” and I couldn’t answer so she assumed I needed wheeled, got super mad and snotty and slammed everything around to get me into the hospital. My family are all right there and they get me into the Emergency room entrance, push the button to get me into the actual ER where everyone is sitting at the desk. The one nurse says real lousily “FIRST WEST?” (the psychiatric unit) when all of a sudden my mom busts in behind us and screams “MY DAUGHTER IS NOT ON DRUGS, NOR IS SHE HAVING A MENTAL BREAKDOWN, SHE NEEDS HELP RIGHT NOW” (Mind you, none or are assertive people. We do not complain about things or accuse people of being lousy. We are very kind, normal people. Unless something is BAD or life or death, we worry about more important things. For my mom to do this, you knew it was extreme and I was being treated horribly). When my mom said that, everyone got wide eyed and JUMPED up and rushed to me. I will never forget how scary it all was. They had no idea what was going on. The doctor rushed over and checked me out and I remember him saying I needed a CT scan right away and some other tests. They did those and within maybe a half hour (I’m really cutting this 3 hour window CLOSE) the doctor comes back and tells my mom that he believes I had a massive stroke. The possible good news is that he thinks it is ischemic and if I get TPA (the blood clot busting medicine) I will live and hopefully walk and talk again. However, the bad news, he can’t tell if it was a clot or a bleed on a CT scan. So they are calling for lifeflight, the doctors are bringing the TPA and you have about 20 minutes to decide whether or not to give it to her. IF this is a bleed, there is a chance it will kill her. I remember lying there, petrified. I was trapped in my body, I could not communicate. I had to rely on my loved ones to make the most difficult decision of mine and their lives. The doctor was great and he threw off hints that he really thought it was a clot (since my BP was fine and signs werent leading toward a bleed) and my boyfriend picked up on them and said to my mom to give me the TPA. My mom agreed and when the lifeflight doctors got there, they could not find a vein. They tried my ankles, wrists, hands, arms, and finally they got my arm after a million tries. At this point I could say two words. Those two words were “I’m sorry”. I laid in the bed while these doctors were trying so hard to administer this medication to save my life with tears, and I kept saying I’m sorry. I said I’m sorry probably 20 times to the nurses, my family, the doctors…. and then guess what EMTs were there to drive me to the helicopter? The miserable women who treated me so horribly. I thought at this point that they would be kind to me since they knew what was happening. They had to wheel me out to the ambulance after the TPA bags were attached to me, I said to them “I’m sorry” and they totally ignored me and gave me this blank, nasty look. Like I had ruined their evening or caused them so much work? I will never to this day understand why I was treated so badly. I was terrified and I didnt know if I was going to die or if that was the last I would ever see my family… and these women treated me like I had killed their dog or like I was some horrible person. Sorry, that bothers me so much still, even 6 years later. Luckily, the lifeflight doctor was so kind and nice. I was TERRIFIED to get on the helicopter too, which obviously I couldn’t tell them. I had never flown in anything and never planned to, EVER. My mom couldnt go with me, it was awful. But this man sat beside me with our headsets on.. and although I couldnt talk, he sat and obviously monitored me and I would put my left thumb up and look at him and he would thumbs up me back because the medicine was not harming me at all and my vitals were good. That was the longest 15 minutes of my life. I remember seeing the city below me and feeling the shaking of the helicopter so vividly. I can still feel it.. all of it. Anyways, we landed and they rushed me into this observation room with glass all around me. The lady came in and took all of my piercings out and told me that I was about to get a bunch of tests done. I was totally alone. We live an hour drive from the city without traffic. The helicopter takes 15-20minutes. I knew my family wasnt there yet and even if they were, they weren’t allowed to see me yet. I sat in this room for what felt like an eternity being monitored and they took me for some tests. I couldn’t help them move me or tell them any information, it was awful. Eventually, they moved me to the neurological Intensive Care Unit. I was hooked up to more machines than I had ever seen. The whole room had windows where they could monitor me, which was great for my care I guess. But it was so horrible. It this point it was daylight, but I was finally allowed to have my family come in 1 or 2 at a time. It turns out, I did have a massive ischemic stroke. At only 24 years old. It was such a freak thing and my nurse was my age. They were all in shock but so nice to me. My main nurse, Rachel was amazing. She took me to every single test and talked to me the entire time, even though I couldnt talk back to her. That is someone I am forever grateful to. But yeah, I was in ICU the rest of that day and night as well. All I could do was hum to songs on the tv. They would bring in papers with ABC’s and numbers for me to try and say…. I couldn’t. Imagine not being able to say your ABC’s. It was bad enough I couldn’t tell them my birthday or name, but two days ago, I could say my ABC’s backwards. I couldn’t even say them in my brain at this point. I was so alert and there but my brain was not working at all it seemed. I was afraid I would be a vegetable the rest of my life. I can never describe any of this as it felt. We eventually got answers that day. It turns out that I was born with a hole in my heart, an ASD to be exact. It was never detected and very large. That night I fell at work, it caused a normal clot. One that should have just dissipated into my lungs, but it shot through the hole and went to my brain. It obliterated almost a 4th of my it actually. The entire left back side was affected. Luckily for me, it was patchy and I was young. They said I should recover decently in the next year and moved me to a regular room finally. From there, I went home. I still couldn’t talk right or walk without help. I had to stay at my parents for a while because I couldn’t walk steps, nor did I want to go home. I had night terrors and wouldnt be alone. My sister slept in the living room with me, she would sit in the bathroom with me while showered. It was a mess. I was just so scared and not well. People were visiting constantly and it was great. Of course that lasted only like 2 weeks. I just wanted to feel normal again and go back to work.. and live life. But that still hasnt went back to normal, I dont know if it ever will. My speech is 100 times better now, unless I get really nervous. It’s pretty much back besides trip ups here and there. I still have next to no feeling on my right side, but I can use it unless it’s cold. My hand doesnt like to cooperate to do small things anymore. My memory is really bad. I dont feel like I used to at all. Life gives you ups and downs, but this one was pretty drastic. 2 months after the stroke, they fixed the hole in my heart which was amazing. I was in the hospital for 3 days, but it went smooth and eventually completely healed. I was told I should never have another stroke, I have s better chance of hitting the lottery, unless of course, later in life I have health issues. But this one was fixed and I am 100% healthy and my heart was perfect now. Had I not had the stroke, they told me by the time I was 35, my heart would have overworked itself and I would have died. So in a way, the stroke was a blessing. It all happened at the right time. All the coincidences that took place that saved my life, just wow. But, it also changed everything for me. Everything I worked since I was 17 for, was gone. I moved back home. Eventually my problems and my anxiety from this, ended my relationship. I have post concussion disorder, which is really weird. It has to be from the stroke because I’ve never had a head injury. It comes in waves of lightheadedness, my eyes get blurry and extreme sensitivity to light, my eyes over track which make them so tired I have to close them for periods of time. I get nerve pain. I could go on forever. I havent went back to work. I am on disability which is mortifying. I have no sense of pride now. I always worked so hard for everything I had and I was so independent, it has all been taken. I try to move on and I am so fortunate, I know it could be worse, but I wouldnt wish this on anyone. My anxiety from this is on a next level. I’m always afraid I’m going to just die. I cant be alone still. In a room I can be, but not in a house alone. I freak out going to stores and places. I have this second chance at life and I feel like I’m just blowing it, I guess. But, that is my story. Sorry it was so long and detailed. If anyone else has experienced similar or has similar post stroke problems, I would love to hear from you. I welcome it.