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How old were you when you had your stroke? 32

  • Date of your stroke?  1/15/2012
  • What general area do you live in?   San Diego, CA
  • Type of Stroke?  Dissected left vertebral artery- bilateral brainstem infarct
  • Any known reasons for your stroke?  I received a slight tear during a vigorous massage
  • What were your symptoms? What were you feeling during your stroke? Tell us the story of what happened. Nauseated. Confused. Debilitating pain. Wooziness. It was like a migraine magnified x100. I had “halo” vision. I bled into my brain for a bit before I stroked out. I felt euphoric. Left the house with no bra or shoes. I couldn’t figure out how to back out of a parking space. I even walked into my work, in a totally inappropriate pajama-type get-up and through slurred speech , told my employer that I wasn’t going to be coming in tomorrow.
  • Were you administered TPA (Tissue Plasminogen Activator) within the first 3-5 hours of your stroke?  No.
  • Where did you go for inpatient rehab?  Sharp San Diego
  • Where did you go for outpatient rehab? I “dropped out” of out patient rehab. I was sick of being a patient by then, and I was experiencing so much emotional lability, that it was hard for me to be in a group setting.
What are your biggest challenges/residual effects?

Getting back the lost time. Disability destroyed my independence, my savings, my confidence, my dignity, my credit, any employment opportunities (I had just graduated with a degree in communication, and I unfortunately sounded like a drunk ET.) I’m just behind the ball now. I have pretty severe emotional lability issues, still. I cry for no reason, and it makes me avoid interaction, sometimes. I have no complaints, though. Everyday is a blessing. I have re-entered my life 100%.  I’m a little klutzy, but I’m bartending again. I found love again after my stroke took that, too. I live on my own, I drive, I just ask for help a lot.

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

My family.
My family helped keep my dignity and sanity.
They kept up on my hygiene. I was totally paralyzed. Everyday my hair was brushed out. My mom flossed my teeth. She washed and moisturized my face. She’d shave my nether regions and arm pits, so I still felt like a woman , even though I was getting catheterized and was totally bedridden for three months. At my request, she kept essential oils and deodorant on me so I didn’t “smell sick” for all my visitors.
My family and partner would crawl carefully into bed with me, and they would give me lots of physical attention.
For about two of the three months that I was hospitalized, I could only blink to communicate because of my paralysis. They made an alphabet chart and had a dry-erase board on hand, and patiently let me “talk” (via blinks) to them all the time. They kept me laughing. They would be inappropriate, sarcastic, and would lovingly tease me and each other all the time. They made my hospitalization tolerable and treated me like the person I am. Hospitalization can be so de-humanizing and impersonal.

What keeps you going now?

I have a fierce hunger for life. Always have. Always will. Something new! I am grateful to be able to work now, and I always thank God for letting me be well enough to hustle and just be apart of the rat race. It’s a miracle and was almost taken from me.

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

Accept help. Accept your new frailty. Give yourself a flipping break. Stroke survival is not easy and recovering from a stroke can be a multi-layered nightmare. One thing at a time. Knowing your weakness makes you strong. Launch a 100% full attack on depression. It’s real, it’s strong, and it’s normal. Everything will fall back into place. Give time, time. Life may never be the same, and that’s ok. Pray hard. Laugh hard. Reach out to others. You are not alone.

What is something quirky/fun about yourself? 

I’m an out-spoken smart-aleck. I think I’m funnier than I am. Bladder control is still somewhat of an issue, post stoke. I crack myself up, and often pee my pants. That’s the litmus test for friendship nowadays. If you can handle that, we can be friends:)

Accept help. Accept your new frailty. Give yourself a flipping break.

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