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!