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20’s

Monica | 29 | PA

By | Stroke Story, 20's, Female | No Comments

How old were you when you had your stroke? 29

  • Date of your stroke? 07/03/2016
  • What general area do you live in?  Waynesboro, Pennsylvania
  • Type of Stroke? Ischemic Stroke
  • Any known reasons for your stroke? No, not yet!
  • What were your symptoms? I was at work and began to feel very distant and disoriented, It took me fifteen minutes to tie an apron around my waist which so lasted realized after being educated was probably because of weakness in my arm.
  • Were you administered TPA (Tissue Plasminogen Activator) within the first 3-5 hours of your stroke? Yes
  • Where did you go for inpatient rehab? Wellspan Surgery and rehabilitation hospital
  • Where did you go for outpatient rehab? Wellspan Adams Health Center
  • What are your biggest challenges/residual effects? I’ve lost mobility in my left side, I’ve begun to see improvements in my leg my but my arm is still very much paralyzed. I no longer have any inflection in my voice.

What advice would you give someone recovering from a stroke now?

Recovery is a marathon not a sprint! Our body’s have been through something very traumatic. It will be a slow recovery but it’s doable.

What keeps you motivated now?

My family and the hope of having the life I’ve always planned for myself! I won’t let this stroke stop my life at 29.

Celebrate the tiny improvements they make up the big gains!

Post recovery, what is something you have learned that might encourage others? 

Celebrate the tiny improvements they make up the big gains!

What is something quirky/fun about yourself?

I’m a quirky/fun person in general! I went to culinary school. Cooking is my passion and my favorite hobby!

Any therapy tips you picked up during your time in therapy that might help others? 

Just keep pushing, if you keep your mindset strong the body will follow.

How did you hear about NOPW?

From Instagram! 

Follow Monica on instagram HERE!

Chase | 24 | TN

By | Stroke Story, Male, 20's | No Comments

How old were you when you had your stroke? 24

  • Date of your stroke? 7/11/2016
  • What general area do you live in? Murfreesboro, TN
  • Type of Stroke? Ischemic
  • Any known reasons for your stroke? No known reason too be found. I had blood clots for some reason and doctors said I had 2 heart attacks and was never aware of it. I was very active and loved too workout was a personal trainer.
  • What were your symptoms? Calf pain. Dizziness/nausea.
  • Were you administered TPA (Tissue Plasminogen Activator) within the first 3-5 hours of your stroke? No
  • Where did you go for in-patient rehab?  Southern Hills Medical Facility.
  • Where did you go for out-patient rehab?  Phi Beta Phi at Vanderbilt.

What is something you have learned that might encourage others?

Just have to take it one day at a time.

What are your biggest challenges/residual effects?

 Left side weakness. Mostly left arm and hand. Cannot open hand very well but can grip though.

What advice would you give someone recovering from a stroke now?

Don’t give up we are still alive for a reason.

Don’t give up we are still alive for a reason.

What is something quirky/fun about yourself?

I am very sarcastic and animated.

What keeps you going now?

 The desire too get back better then I was before the stroke.

How did you hear about NOPW?

Instagram Follow me HERE.

What’s your favorite motivational song?

Walking Like Giants by stars go dim

Toni | 23 | AL

By | Stroke Story, 20's, Female | No Comments

How old were you when you had your stroke? 23

  • Date of your stroke? 6/12/2016
  • What general area do you live in? Huntsville, AL
  • Type of Stroke? Left Carotid artery dissection
  • Any known reasons for your stroke? They have no idea why I had my stroke.
  • What were your symptoms? A couple months before my stroke I had experienced mild vertigo, loss of taste and smell, and weakness to my right side. During my stroke my right side went completely paralyzed, I couldn’t speak while I was paralyzed. When I was able to move again I was able to speak but I made no sense. I knew instantly that I was having a stroke when I put my left hand over my face and smiled. Only the left side was smiling. During my stroke and even on the way to the hospital I was very calm.
  • Were you administered TPA (Tissue Plasminogen Activator) within the first 3-5 hours of your stroke? I don’t know what that is.
  • Where did you go for in-patient rehab? I was at the Huntsville hospital.

W hat are your biggest challenges/residual effects? My entire right side is in sensory shock. Basically just constant pain. I can’t really feel heat or cold much. I’m in constant outlook to keep my head safe from harm. If I get hit in the head, neck, or fall I have to immediately get to the hospital to get checked.

W hat is something you have learned that might encourage others? I have learned that if you have been given a second chance. Take it and run with it. I lived by one percent, and I’m going to make that one percent worth it.

You can make it through this. You are not alone.

What is something quirky/fun about yourself?

I know a lot of weird and random facts! Example: Babies are born without knee caps.

How did you hear about NOPW?

Instagram! Follow me HERE.

What keeps you going now?

Getting my degree. Living my life to the fullest and achieving all of my goals.

What advice would you give someone recovering from a stroke now?

You can make it through this. You are not alone. Just remember to take it one step at a time. And never be afraid to ask for help.

What’s your favorite motivation song?

Destiny’s Child – Survivor

Rachael | 28 | IN

By | Stroke Story, 20's, Female | No Comments

How old were you when you had your stroke? 28 & 33

  • Date of your stroke? 7/26/10 & 5/30/16
  • What general area do you live in?  South Whitley, IN
  • Type of Stroke? Ischemic both times
  • Any known reasons for your stroke? Moya Moya disease complicated by use of Yaz in 2010 and then by sepsis in 2016.
  • What were your symptoms? Right sided weakness, facial droop, & slurred speech
  • Were you administered TPA (Tissue Plasminogen Activator) within the first 3-5 hours of your stroke? Yes
  • Where did you go for in-patient rehab? Rehab hospital in Fort Wayne
  • Where did you go for outpatient rehab? KCH

What are your biggest challenges/residual effects? Some days just getting out of bed is hard,  but I had to stay at it for my hubby and wonderful kiddos.

What keeps you going now?

Wonderful hubby Chad, amazing kiddos, Wyatt & Maggie, and all my family and friends.

What advice would you give someone recovering from a stroke now?

Control what you can, but don’t live in fear. Don’t let it stop you from living.

Control what you can, but don't live in fear. Don't let it stop you from living.

What is something you have learned that might encourage others? One day at a time… sometimes a minute at a time,  is all you can worry about. Don’t sweat the small stuff either

What is something quirky/fun about yourself?

I’m a nurse, almost 13 years, all in ICU and ER… so glad to be back to work as of this week 🙂

How did you hear about NOPW?

Friend’s wife had a stroke and shared her story on here.

What is your motivation song? 

Rachel | 29 | MI

By | Stroke Story, 20's, Female | No Comments

How old were you when you had your stroke? 29

  • Date of your stroke? 3/22/2016
  • What general area do you live in? Berrien Springs , MI
  • Type of Stroke? Cerebellar infarction, due to a dissection of the vertebral artery, which caused an ischemic stroke.
  • Any known reasons for your stroke? The day before, I tried to do a one-armed handstand balancing on a kettle bell. I fell and hit my face against the kettle bell, hyper-extending my neck and dissecting the vertebral artery (inner layers of artery stuck together, inhibiting blood flow).
  • What were your symptoms? I had no symptoms for about 24 hours. The next morning after working out, my neck began to hurt really bad. About 4 hours later, I got extreme vertigo, quickly followed by nausea and vomiting. Within an hour of the onset of those symptoms, I lost control and feeling on my entire left side, that’s when we knew it wasn’t food poisoning or the flu, but something more serious. At that point, I couldn’t stand or walk, so my husband and a coworker carried me to the car, and we drove to the ER.
  • Were you administered TPA (Tissue Plasminogen Activator) within the first 3-5 hours of your stroke? Yes
  • Where did you go for in-patient rehab?
    After leaving the ER at Lakeland Hospital in St Joseph, MI, they transferred me to their ICU (because of the TPA), and I was there for about 24 hours. During that time, I saw a speech therapist (but my speech was unaffected, so that didn’t help much), an occupational therapist, and a physical therapist, all of which worked there in the hospital. Then I spent a night in a “regular” hospital room to recover. The next morning I saw the physical and occupational therapists again. I was discharged that day (two days after my stroke).
  • Where did/do you go for outpatient rehab?
    I live and work on at Andrews University, and we have an excellent Physical Therapy program. I was able to do rehab for free with a neurological PT that teaches in the program, since I was willing to let students work with me for a class they were taking. I did that for about 3 months, and it definitely made a huge difference. I also have a close friend who is a PT, who would come over and work with me and give me different exercises to practice on my own.

W hat are your biggest challenges/residual effects? My vision, balance and coordination were the biggest areas affected. Getting around was the first big challenge. About a week or so after getting home, the headaches got really bad. I was able to get stronger pain killers and after about a month, the headaches went away completely, which was awesome! For a long time, my vision was a problem. Things wouldn’t stay very steady (visually) when I would move around, but that eventually stopped. I still see double in a certain area on of my left eye, but my vision in general is still improving. Sometimes I feel visually “overwhelmed” when I’m moving around or in a crowd of people. I also got occasional vertigo from things like sit ups, lying flat on the floor or tipping my head backwards, but that has basically gone away now. Now the most consistent reminders of my stroke are the tingling in my left fingers, dryness in my left eye, and that my left eye doesn’t open as wide as the other one. But these are such minor things and I feel so blessed because of that!

A ny therapy tips you picked up during your time in therapy that might help others? All of the physical therapy I got was amazing, but I only did that a couple of days a week, so it was really what I did on my own time that made the biggest difference. Besides just practicing the things I learned in therapy, I reincorporated CrossFit, Zumba and yoga into my schedule as I was able. CrossFit helped me get my strength back, but also helped me get back some of the coordination I’d lost. Zumba was also excellent for coordination and agility, since there are a lot of movements you do when dancing that you wouldn’t do in your every day life. And yoga was great for my balance and flexibility, since I was often very stiff and tight from not moving as much. Now I’m back to CrossFitting 5 days a week and doing Zumba and yoga at least once or twice a week. Also, I noticed during my PT sessions that some movements or positions might be really difficult, or even induce vertigo, but if I did them again, they would become easier, more comfortable or the vertigo would stop. I started challenging myself little by little to test out those uncomfortable positions (like leaning backwards for example, or doing sit ups). Now they’re no problem!

How did you hear about NOPW?

I found you on Instagram! I’m so glad there’s a community of people that not only know what I’m going through, but are working to raise awareness. Follow me HERE.

What is something quirky/fun about yourself?

I help at my local church, I’m a CrossFit coach (CFL1), I love to cook and eat, and I have two rescue dogs.

I want to be even stronger and better than I was before the stroke, not just physically, but mentally, spiritually, and as a person in general. I want to show people that road blocks are temporary, and excuses are a huge waste of time. I just want to be awesome.

P ost recovery, what is something you have learned that might encourage others?The human body and the brain are so amazing! I don’t feel like my body let me down when I had a stroke, I feel like it’s showed me how incredibly God made me and reminded me to take the best care of my body that I can. I was very fit before the stroke, and that has REALLY helped with my recovery. Other stroke survivors that I’ve met are amazed at how far I’ve come. Even two months after my stroke, many people couldn’t tell I’d had one. I was passionate about fitness and health before, but now I tell people that fitness can literally save your life (not just lengthen it). And as long as you’re alive, it’s never too late to start a fitness journey! I also take every opportunity I can to teach people about strokes and make sure they know how to recognize the signs and symptoms. I knew NOTHING about strokes before I had one. Hopefully the information I share can help someone else. But most importantly, my whole experience was just a huge reminder of how good God is. He brought so much positivity and joy to my life out of it. I think that’s the biggest miracle of all.

What keeps you motivated now?

I want to be even stronger and better than I was before the stroke, not just physically, but mentally, spiritually, and as a person in general. I want to show people that road blocks are temporary, and excuses are a huge waste of time. I just want to be awesome.

What advice would you give someone recovering from a stroke now?

Listen. Listen to your body, listen to the doctors, and listen to the people closest to you, too. They may not all agree, so you’ll have to synthesize all the input you’re getting and just make the best choices you can. But don’t let anyone stop you from working hard. I’ve heard a lot of amazing stories about doctors saying a stroke patient would never do “something” again, and even though it might take months or years, they do it! Just work hard. You’ll have tough days, but remember they’re just that: days. They’ll pass and you’ll get a new one tomorrow.

T ell us about your tattoo on your wrist! 2016 was a big year for me: had a stroke, finished grad school, turned 30 and now I’m starting my dream job in a couple of weeks. I feel like I’m capable of just about anything right now, and I wanted a visual reminder of that for when I forget 🙂 I was so excited to find you guys after my stroke. I think what you’re doing is so important, and I LOVE explaining what the symbol means.

While this stroke has strengthened my spirit, it’s also softened my heart. God has really used this experience to make me a more sympathetic and thoughtful person, and this heart pop is also an homage to that.

What’s your favorite motivation song?

I heard the song “Alive” by Sia a couple weeks after my stroke, and that meant a lot to me for obvious reasons! Also, “This Too Shall Pass” by OK Go.

Sydney | 25 | MO

By | Stroke Story, 20's, Female | No Comments

How old were you when you had your stroke? 25

  • Date of your stroke? 1/26/2016
  • What general area do you live in? Blue Springs, MO
  • Type of Stroke? Basilar Artery Stroke
  • Any known reasons for your stroke? The doctors could not find a reason. All of the test came back negative.
  • What were your symptoms? I first felt dizzy and then began throwing up. I slowly became paralyzed on my right side.
  • Were you administered TPA (Tissue Plasminogen Activator) within the first 3-5 hours of your stroke? No
  • Where did you go for in-patient rehab? I went to the University of Kansas Hospital
  • Where did/do you go for outpatient rehab? I went to the Rehabilitation Institute of Kansas City

W hat advice would you give someone recovering from a stroke now? Never give up. Some days will be harder than others, but you have to keep moving.

Any tips you picked up during your time in therapy that might help others?

Work your hardest every day, even on weekends. Try using the affected side as much as possible for every day activities.

What is something you have learned that might encourage others?

No matter what life throws at you, you find strength and keep going.

What are your biggest challenges/residual effects?

No residual effects. I had to work on running a lot when I was at rehab, but I can do it now!

W hat keeps you motivated now? I hung all of the cards and posters I received from classmates, friends, and family to remind me how many people are rooting for me.

No matter what life throws at you, you find strength and keep going.

What is something quirky/fun about yourself?

In the summertime I like to wakeboard. I haven’t tried wakeboarding after my stroke yet, but I hope to do it soon. I am currently a medical student and I am now back to school!

What’s your Instagram handle?

@sydthekydpriest

Any articles about your stroke?

Article from ATSU.ORG: Sydney Strong

How did you find out about NOPW?

A lot of therapists in rehab told me about the organization. My mom and I ordered bumper stickers off the website and was contacted by Amy and Jonny.

What’s your favorite motivation song?

Kirstin | 24 | IN

By | Stroke Story, 20's, Female | No Comments

How old were you when you had your stroke? 24

  • Date of your stroke? 11/04/2015
  • What general area do you live in? Winona Lake, IN
  • Type of Stroke? Ischemic
  • Any known reasons for your stroke? Chiropractic adjustment to my neck which resulting in a dissected vertebral artery.
  • What were your symptoms? Extreme numbness and tingling on my left side. Falling to my right. Nausea and throwing up. Double vision. Trouble swallowing. Neck pain.
  • Were you administered TPA (Tissue Plasminogen Activator) within the first 3-5 hours of your stroke? No
  • Where did you go for in-patient rehab?
    The hospital I was admitted to.
  • Where did you go for outpatient rehab?
    In-home care

W hat are your biggest challenges/residual effects? Being restricted from usual activity, i.e. exercise and driving. Gaining back my balance.

How did you hear about NOPW?

Instagram (@nopw_)

What is something quirky/fun about yourself?

I am a nanny for 4 sweet babies. Two sets of twins. Thank goodness when the stroke happened it was nap time for all of them!

Don't be afraid to ask for help or feel like a burden to those close to you. They're there because they love you and want you to be with them a lot longer!

W hat was something that kept you going during your stay in the hospital that might encourage others? Don’t give up. I could have laid in bed and cried and thought I had no hope for recovery, but that’s the easy way out. Fight for your health! Fight for yourself!

What keeps you going now?

The drive to have a healthy fulfilled life. I wasn’t ready to throw in the towel on Nov. 4 and I’m not ready now! So I keep pushing to be a healthy and happy me!

What advice would you give someone recovering from a stroke now?

To not give up and to look for support in the ones around you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or feel like a burden to those close to you. They’re there because they love you and want you to be with them a lot longer!

Emily | 25 | MI

By | Stroke Story, 20's, Female | No Comments

How old were you when you had your stroke? 25

  • Date of your stroke? 10/1/15
  • What general area do you live in? Silver Spring, MD
  • Type of Stroke? TBI Bleed
  • Any known reasons for your stroke? My stroke was due to complications during a brain surgery to remove a brain tumor. The tumor’s blood vessel burst and bled into the surrounding areas of my temporal lobe.
  • What were your symptoms? The only symptom of my slowly growing brain tumor was 7 years of simple seizures that my primary care physicians mistook for “migraines”.  On the night the tumor was discovered I had a one grand mal seizure.
  • Were you administered TPA (Tissue Plasminogen Activator) within the first 3-5 hours of your stroke? No
  • Where did you go for in-patient rehab?
    University of Maryland Orthopedic and Rehabilitation Hospital – 3 weeks
  • Where did you go for outpatient rehab?
    Upper Chesapeke Medical Center (Bel Air, MD) and currently National ional Rehabilitation Hospital (Wheaton, MD)

W hat are your biggest challenges/residual effects? Left-Sided Hemiparesis. I walk independently now but fine motor coordination recovery of left hand is ongoing. Left peripheral blindness (hemianopsia).Spasticity (Tone) in my left sided muscles fight against my ability to move freely. Occasionally I will lose my train of thought while I’m telling a long story.

How did you hear about NOPW?

Networking with other stroke survivors on Instagram. Follow me HERE.

What is something quirky/fun about yourself?

I’m a high school teacher so I always try to keep it hip for my students, yo. My stroke recovery is on “fleek” ;D

The difference between denying your diagnosis and DEFYING your diagnosis is YOU.

W hat was something that kept you going during your stay in the hospital that might encourage others? I’ve learned that recovery is WHEN not IF. Like many, I was nervously told by doctors that a full recovery is not guaranteed, that the window for recovery can be from 6 months to 1 or 2 years only….but many had the same final sentiment: “There is really no definite answer. Every individual is different.”
I’ve learned to decipher that sentiment as hope. Therapists don’t always want to get your hopes up just in case your battle is harder than average. I originally decided that I should begin researching how to thrive with one hand….I had zero finger movement for two and a half months. Until, one day at Outpatient….they wiggled in the hands of my occupational therapist. It was the most joyful day! I learned that OUR BODIES HEAL. With or without intensive intervention, our brains WANT to heal and ever so slowly, they will. We still must help the process and never give up our efforts to relearn…but trust that our bodies are helping in their own special ways.

What keeps you going now?

My independence keeps me motivated. I grieved the loss of my independence most when I was still considered a “fall risk” and unable to move about without supervision. In 25 years I never needed such help and it was a blow to my very identity to lose it. Ever so slowly I achieved goals that gave me back a little piece of my freedom. I took my first step without my cane to my mother’s arms and we laughed. I shuffled through my kitchen slowly and I made my own breakfast for the first time again. I wasn’t afraid to try a new activity. My body had doubts but my heart said “you can do this!”  I became charged with the joy that only regaining my independence piece by piece could bring. I entered a competition with myself. And I began winning! I couldn’t stop, I wouldn’t stop and I still can’t stop!

What advice would you give someone recovering from a stroke now?

The difference between denying your diagnosis and DEFYING your diagnosis is YOU.  You can be the individual that defies the doctor’s statistics. It takes a positive and resilient attitude. It takes an attitude that boldly declares, “I’m not settling for living a life that I’m not in control of!” It will get brutally hard at times and it is okay to grieve what your stroke took from you – but you must come out even stronger knowing that though you must be patient, your brain is healing every day. The more you believe and commit to being your brain’s personal trainer and coach, the more rewarding you will find the inevitable recovery to be. You can do it. You are in control and you can fight against all odds to regain your life. Never give up! – “Diamonds are just pieces of charcoal that handled stress  exceptionally well”.

Justin | 27 | CA

By | Stroke Story, Male, 20's | One Comment

How old were you when you had your stroke? 27

  • Date of your stroke? 09/30/2015 
  • What general area do you live in?  Riverside, California
  • Type of Stroke? Unsure
  • Any known reasons for your stroke? The reason for my stroke was a blood clot due to heart failure that I did not know I was experiencing at the time.
  • Were you administered TPA (Tissue Plasminogen Activator) within the first 3-5 hours of your stroke? No.
  • Where did you go for inpatient rehab? Kaiser Permanente in Los Angeles.
  • What are your biggest challenges/residual effects?Thankfully I do not have any huge residual effects. I have noticed however, that the strength in my left hand is not the same that is in my right hand.

What were your symptoms? What were you feeling during your stroke? Tell us the story of what happened.

Before my stroke I remember driving home on the freeway with intense stomach pains and an extremely painful headache located at the center of the top of my head. The headache eventually went away, but I had severe stomach cramping all night on the side of my stomach. I eventually was able to relieve myself, and when I finally did, I could not lift myself off the toilet because my legs did not work. I had to crawl to my bed from my bathroom. Because I did not know that I experienced a stroke, foolishly I took a nap to see if I would eventually get feeling back in my legs. Upon waking up, I found that I did, but then realized my thumbs did not properly work when I was typing during texting.

That was my first stroke. A few days later, I experienced my second stroke. This one was much more scary, and this is when I first went to the hospital after I had it. I was in my room and all of a sudden my body stiffened and I collapsed on my bed (thankfully) stomach first. My legs began to move uncontrollably, and I was in a state of confusion. I immediately called my brother with slurred speech because I just knew something was wrong. At that time I felt and sounded drunk to put it best. Instead of calling my mother, I decided to text her because speaking was very difficult for me. Texting was difficult because I had the words in my head, but I could not form them in sentences when I began to text. At this time both of my arms were completely numb. I remember digging my nails deep into both of my arms and scratching really hard, and still I had no feeling.

That night I went to the hospital with my left hand moving around uncontrollably in circles, and I vomited a green colored liquid. My legs were weak, and I had to be pushed around in a wheelchair. It was a very scary moment in my life.

My last stroke was thankfully while I was in the hospital. I remember taking a nap and waking up to my complete left side of my body numb. I had slurred speech, and the left side of my face drooped. I was also blind for a moment, and it took me a week to get feeling back in my legs so that I could walk again, This was the first time during my strokes that I actually cried and felt really unsure about my future, and if I was ready to live with a disability, or possibly die.

What is something quirky/fun about yourself?

Although others do not agree, I generally think of myself as a really boring person (lol). Before my strokes, I have always wanted to model, and I finally got the opportunity to do professional modeling with big named companies and brands. It has been a cool experience, and it is something that I hope to continue in the future. I also like to paint, and do crafts.

What keeps you motivated now? 

Living a healthy lifestyle keeps me motivated now. First, I worked out at the gym for the outer appearance. now I work out and eat healthy to help prevent another stroke. Family and faith is also a huge motivator for me as well.

Remain determined. Do not get discouraged!

Post recovery, what is something you have learned that might encourage others? 

Share your story! Doing something like this, or even talking to someone that you are just now getting to know can help you or someone else so much. Recently I have met two new friends my age that have experienced strokes themselves. Our community unfortunately is not as small as one may think. I have developed lifelong connections with these two individuals, and I am thankful to know that I am not alone.

What advice would you give someone recovering from a stroke now? 

Please don’t let anxiety get the best of you. I was already an anxious person before all of this, but now every time I experience my hand or foot going to sleep, I immediately freak out and pray that I am not having another stroke.

How did you hear about NOPW?

Some years ago I remembered hearing a story about Malcolm in The Middle star Frankie Muniz having a stroke at a very young age, so I googled it, and came across the NOPW website through the comments on the article.

Follow Justin on instagram HERE!

What’s your favorite motivational song?

My favorite motivation song is “Through the Rain” by Mariah Carey. I listened to that song every night in the hospital, and it really helped me through the process. When visiting hours were over, I got extremely lonely, and that song stayed on repeatedly.

Laura | 22 | KS

By | Stroke Story, 20's, Female | No Comments

How old were you when you had your stroke? 22

  • Date of your stroke?4/21/2014
  • What general area do you live in?  Kansas City
  • Type of Stroke? Venous sinus thrombosis
  • Any known reasons for your stroke? I started taking birth control. But I didn’t know I had increased factor VIII (promotes blood clotting) at the time.
  • What were your symptoms? My jaw muscles got really tight one side and then I had the “worst headache of my life” for 2 days before going to the hospital.
  • Were you administered TPA (Tissue Plasminogen Activator) within the first 3-5 hours of your stroke? No.
  • Where did you go for inpatient rehab? I was at Southeast Alabama Medical Center.
  • Where did you go for outpatient rehab? I never had outpatient rehab.
  • What are your biggest challenges/residual effects?I recovered very quickly, physically that is. I was in the middle of medical school when it happened and managed to return to school within a few weeks. The biggest challenge at first was being able to differentiate between background noise and a direct conversation. It was very hard to be around a lot of people at once because I was unable to block out the unnecessary sounds/noises in order to focus on who I was talking to. I also had a lot of trouble understanding various accents. I remember talking to a lady (I think she was Indian), and I couldn’t understand her accent, so my fiance had to restate what she said for me to understand. I felt bad that I couldn’t understand her myself.
    Now it’s been almost 2 years. I still think about my experiences almost every day. I deal with a lot of anxiety/depression/PTSD. I no longer have difficulty understanding various accents. Even though all my physical problems are resolved and managed, my health mentally is tough to balance. Some days are good, some are bad, and I take it one day at a time. I will never be able to forget my experiences, but they make me who I am. They help me to be compassionate and caring.

What was something that kept you going during your stay in the hospital that might encourage others?

My family flew down from KC to be with me in the hospital. Several of my friends visited and brought some food for my family so they wouldn’t have to leave. I had some truly amazing nurses, too. Both in the ICU and in telemetry, the nurses were great. They inspired me. They made me realize that I didn’t want to necessarily be the doctor writing all the medical orders. No, I wanted to be the nurse who spends 12 hours a day with their patients, caring for them, meeting their physical and medical needs, but also being their emotional support. My nurses felt pain when I was in pain. My nurses also smiled and laughed with me.

What keeps you going now?

Now, I’m on a different path. Since then I got married to my then fiance. I quit medical school and went to nursing school instead. I want to be like the nurses I had in the hospital. I still love the science of medicine, but I love caring for people more. Being able to spend time with them, help them get better, cry when they cry, and laugh when they laugh. I’m graduating in August this year as an RN, and I’m so excited to be doing what I’m really passionate about.

I quit medical school and went to nursing school instead. I want to be like the nurses I had in the hospital. I still love the science of medicine, but I love caring for people more.

What advice would you give someone recovering from a stroke now? 

Look through inspirational quotes on pinterest. Find a comedy show to watch on TV and escape your reality for a moment. Find some music that makes you happy and embrace it. Still, when need I need a break from reality, I escape into a different world (usually the ’90s sitcom “Friends”). It lets me leave behind my anxiety, my depression, my intrusive replays of what all happened to me. I can be free from that for a little while. After you start feeling better, I say find out what your passion really is and go for it. You will never be who you were before. And now you are more, you are better. This has strengthened you, even though you may not feel it now.

What is something quirky/fun about yourself?

I’d rather sleep on top of my made bed and use blankets than sleep under all the covers. When I wake up in the morning, my bed is always made!