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Lori | 31 | KS

By | 30's, Female | No Comments

My fiancé and I were at home and as I was reading something to him I had an instant headache, stiff neck and was dizzy and nauseated. I tried to lay down but I couldn’t get comfortable.

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Aimeeleigh | 32 | CA

By | 30's, Female | No Comments

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.

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Kirstin | 24 | IN

By | 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 | 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”.

Krystal | 31 | OR

By | 30's, Female | 2 Comments

How old were you when you had your stroke? 31

  • Date of your stroke? 2/29/2016
  • What general area do you live in? Sweet Home, OR
  • Type of Stroke? Ischemic
  • Any known reasons for your stroke? Pregnancy related 8 weeks at time of stroke.
  • What were your symptoms? Balance issues having hard time driving on my side road.
  • 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? Eugene, Oregon
  • Where did you go for outpatient rehab? Hospital in my area. Been at rehab for two months progressing slowly still walking with cane and AFO part of time. Arm function still not too functional to do daily tasks but able to work with weights to gain movement and muscle back into arm. I plan on doing a clinical study at OHSU next year which will focus mainly on arm function that’s been lost to regain it back. Wish me luck. 

What are your biggest challenges/residual effects? Due to pregnancy recovery has been up and down currently resting at home till our twins arrive September then will start rehab again. Left side weakness I can walk with leg brace and cane, arm has slight movement

What is something you have learned that might encourage others?

Everyday a struggle being pregnant with twins lots HORMONES running through my body, my husband encourages me and our faith in God to get us through this.

What keeps you going now?

My babies I’m not able to do much now but in a few months I’ll be hitting up rehab hard for our girls they need strong and healthy mom.

Never give up no matter what! Trust in yourself and God.

What is something quirky/fun about yourself?

I’m known as a air head kind girl ditzy. Lol

What is your Instagram handle so others can follow you?

@k_kauffman4

How did you hear about NOPW?

On Instagram! 

What is your favorite motivational song?

Kathy | 45 | OH

By | <45, Female | No Comments

How old were you when you had your stroke? 45

  • Date of your stroke? 3/01/2016
  • What general area do you live in? Dublin, OH
  • Type of Stroke? Veinous Thrombosis
  • Any known reasons for your stroke? None.
  • What were your symptoms? Severe headache for over 2 weeks. Then I lost my vision.
  • 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? Ohio State Medical Center
  • Where did you go for outpatient rehab? Texoma Medical Center

What are your biggest challenges/residual effects? Concentration. Some cognitive deficiency.

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

Keep going. Don’t stop trying.

What keeps you going now?

My children.

Keep going. Don't stop trying.

  • What advice would you give someone recovering from a stroke now? You are not alone. Don’t compare yourself to others that are recovering.
  • What is something quirky/fun about yourself? While recovering all I wanted to listen to was bad movies. Grease 2 was the top of the list.
  • How did you hear about NOPW? Facebook (@nopw_)

Rachel | 29 | MI

By | 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.

Theresa | 41 | TX

By | <45, Female | No Comments

How old were you when you had your stroke? 41

  • Date of your stroke? 4/24/2016
  • What general area do you live in? Blue Ridge, TX
  • Type of Stroke? Hemorrhagic
  • Any known reasons for your stroke? None. Now they think I have a clotting disorder.
  • What were your symptoms? My vision disappeared. My left hand went numb, and my face got droopy. My son and sister said my words were very slurred.
  • 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? Reba McEntire Rehabilitation Unit
  • Where did you go for outpatient rehab? Texoma Medical Center

What are your biggest challenges/residual effects? Vision changes. I still have a lot of cognitive problems. Learning to use my left hand again is very difficult. I have difficulty focusing on more than one task at a time. I have a problem with my bowel habits. I can walk pretty well, and use a cane for balance. I do have left foot drop.  I struggle with looking okay for the most part, with a lot of damage to my thought processes, handwriting, calculating. I don’t show emotion anymore.

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

Never give up. When you have done all you can, you can still push a little more! Be positive.

What keeps you going now?

My family, my students, and work. I love teaching.

Never give up. When you have done all you can, you can still push a little more! Be positive.

  • What advice would you give someone recovering from a stroke now? Keep your head up. Literally and figuratively.
  • What is something quirky/fun about yourself? I always wear crazy socks!  I always have candy on me. I am love the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.
  • How did you hear about NOPW? Instagram (@nopw_)

Rachael | 28 | IN

By | 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?