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Toni | 23 | AL

By | 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

Meggan | 33 | CA

By | 30's, Female | No Comments

How old were you when you had your stroke? 33

  • Date of your stroke? 12/07/2016
  • What general area do you live in?  Sherman oaks, California
  • Type of Stroke? TIA 12/7/16 & Embolic stroke on 3/16/17
  • Any known reasons for your stroke? Chiropractic manipulation- Vertebral artery dissection causing a TIA. Embolic stroke during surgery (angiogram/ cerebral embolization)
  • What were your symptoms? I started having severe neck pain in the middle of the day Sunday that got progressively worse each day. On Wednesday I bent over & when I stood up I had double vision. My co-worker walked in & her face looked like it was melting. I lost my peripheral vision, was slurring words & although my brain was fully aware I couldn’t properly express myself. I also had electrical shocks down my left arm & hands.
  • Were you administered TPA (Tissue Plasminogen Activator) within the first 3-5 hours of your stroke? Don’t know what that is.
  • Where did you go for outpatient rehab? UCLA
  • What are your biggest challenges/residual effects? Headaches, dizziness, loss of dexterity, unable to work right now (I’m a dental hygienist), anxiety that it will happen again.

What keeps you going now?

My family, my two dogs. Hearing that I’ve been so strong through this (I don’t always feel that way inside but it motivates me to hear this). Also, that maybe I could help bring awareness to strokes… I’ve heard from two other people that they were diagnosed with a “migraine” and sent home and then had a massive stroke.

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

You can never ask too many questions, find a good support system (message or call me!), take time to heal & take naps. Make yourself your first priority- people will understand.

You can never ask too many questions, find a good support system (message or call me!), take time to heal & take naps. Make yourself your first priority- people will understand.

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

Be your own advocate. When I was in the hospital the first time, with the symptoms, the doctors said I was having a migraine. It just didn’t feel right. I could’ve been released but I opted to stay overnight in order to get a MRI in the hospital. I’m so glad I did! Doctors said had I gone home, I probably would’ve had a massive stroke.

What is something quirky/fun about yourself?

I’m obsessed with my two dogs & I love pigs! My dream is to own an animal sanctuary with rescued pigs, cows, turkeys, goats, etc. I love crossfit & paddle boarding (although I can’t exercise just yet, I hope to get back at it soon)!

How did you hear about NOPW?

I was searching key words such as stroke, Tia, vertebral artery dissection.

Follow Meggan on instagram HERE!

What is your motivation song? 

Amy | 24 | KS

By | 20's, Female | No Comments

How old were you when you had your stroke? 24

  • Date of your stroke? 05/23/2010
  • What general area do you live in?  Shawnee, KS
  • Type of Stroke? Ischemic brain stem stroke
  • Any known reasons for your stroke? Dissected vertebral artery from chiropractic manipulation.
  • What were your symptoms? The day before – leading up to my stroke I had dizziness, dots in my vision, tingling sensation in my face, nausea and vomiting, when I had my stroke I had tremors in my legs, I lost sensation and strength on both sides of my body ( I went limp) and slurred speech.
  • Were you administered TPA (Tissue Plasminogen Activator) within the first 3-5 hours of your stroke? Yes
  • Where did you go for inpatient rehab? Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago now The Shirley Ryan AbilityLab
  • Where did you go for outpatient rehab? Shawnee Mission Medical Center
  • What are your biggest challenges/residual effects? Chronic fatigue. Overstimulation. Vertigo. Headaches.

What keeps you motivated now?

My husband, my daughter, the trust I have that God has a plan for me and a reason for my stroke. When I go through seasons of being really frustrated with my residual effects, I remind myself how far I have come, how supportive my family and friends have been, and how blessed I am to have an experience that has led me to the person I am today (that doesn’t always help because let’s be real, sometimes residual effects just plain suck).

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

Every stroke is different. Every recovery is different. Give yourself grace and patience as you recover because it can be difficult, but don’t ever give up. Know that you are not alone in your recovery, your symptoms, your residual effects… Find someone to relate to it makes it easier to know someone else’s has had your experience.

Every stroke is different. Every recovery is different. Give yourself grace and patience as you recover because it can be difficult, but don't ever give up.

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

Your life is what you make of it. Yes, I had a plan for my life that did not involve having a stroke. Yes, I had a stroke that tossed most of those plans out the window. Yes, I have residual effects that interfere with day to day life. However, I am a big advocate for making the most out of any situation. I had to make new plans. New plans that fit my life post-stroke. I accepted my new limitations and quit hanging onto the past because I knew I couldn’t go back. I wanted to move forward and own my stroke not let it own me. I also have an amazing husband who has helped me along the way.

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

Work hard. Never give up. Be persistent. Even though recovery is tough and not much fun, therapy is there to make you stronger and to get you as independent as possible. If you don’t put your full effort in you won’t reach your full potential.

What is something quirky/fun about yourself?

Obviously, I have a weird obsession with orange popsicles. I LOVE lattes. And sometimes I say weird things in my sleep.

How did you hear about NOPW?

I started it silly!

Follow NOPW on instagram HERE!

What is your motivation song? 

Lainee | 30 | UT

By | 30's, Female | One Comment

How old were you when you had your stroke? 30

  • Date of your stroke? 03/11/2017 
  • What general area do you live in?  St. George, Utah
  • Type of Stroke? Ischemic Stroke
  • Any known reasons for your stroke? Caused by a condition called Primary Hyperaldosteronism or Conns Syndrome.
  • What were your symptoms? We were getting ready for bed and mid sentence I couldn’t speak. My husband was confused until he noticed my arm wasn’t moving. He pinched it and it was completely numb. My left face was dropping and my blood pressure had spiked to 215/151.
  • Were you administered TPA (Tissue Plasminogen Activator) within the first 3-5 hours of your stroke? No.
  • Where did you go for inpatient rehab? My insurance denied in-patient rehab stating they didn’t see any reason.
  • Where did you go for outpatient rehab? Dixie Regional Neuro Therapy
  • What are your biggest challenges/residual effects?I’ve spent a month learning completely how to walk again. I’m left handed and the stroke happened on my left side, so I’ve had to learn to use my right side more.

What keeps you motivated now?

Life! I can’t wait to hit the trails again and explore this world. I want to experience everything with my family and that’s why I fight to walk and gain use of my hand!

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

You know, I really struggled with acceptance. I thought I would wake up better each kind of like th flu… but that’s not how the brain works. I had to accept this new life and really let myself feel all the emotions. It’s a rollercoaster of feeling so strong, to feeling so helpless. Support is everything, let people in and just fight for every single step!

Patience.... be so very patient! These things take time.

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

Patience…. be so very patient! These things take time.

What is something quirky/fun about yourself?

I love jump-roping!

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

The more you do at home the more progress you will make. Focus on making each movement count and that it’s correct. Fight like hell to make that connection.

How did you hear about NOPW?

From Instagram! Thank you for letting me know about this community!

Follow Lainee on instagram HERE!

Monica | 29 | PA

By | 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!

Ashley | 30 | MO

By | 30's, Female | No Comments

Ashley was 30 years old when she had her stroke. She had an Ischemic at the back and base of the brain and was administered TPA. Residual effect include: right handed weakness and migraines. Read more..

Read More

Molly | 20 | PA

By | 20's, Female | No Comments

How old were you when you had your stroke? 20

  • Date of your stroke? 07/28/2007 
  • What general area do you live in?  Bedford, Pennsylvania
  • Type of Stroke? Carotid Artery Dissection
  • Any known reasons for your stroke? I was ejected from a motorcycle.
  • What were your symptoms? I had no symptoms; I don’t remember the actual accident.
  • Were you administered TPA (Tissue Plasminogen Activator) within the first 3-5 hours of your stroke? No.
  • Where did you go for inpatient rehab? UPMC Montefiore/UPMC Presbyterian – Pittsburgh, PA
  • Where did you go for outpatient rehab? Speech and Language Services, UPMC Bedford Memorial – Bedford, PA
  • What are your biggest challenges/residual effects?No one plans on having to learn to read, write and talk all over again as an adult; for me, it was from my ABC’s and 123’s, pretty much everything. To make it even more difficult to learn to talk, I had broken my jaw in the motorcycle accident and it (my jaw) was wired shut for a few months. It is so frustrating not being able to find words to communicate with others.Now, my aphasia is mild and is typically only noticeable when I haven’t gotten enough rest, but people who don’t know my situation usually call me out on it. The fact that I am now a horrible speller drives me crazy. I had lost some peripheral vision after the accident, but a lot of it has come back.

What keeps you motivated now?

Life keeps me going, as well as my friends and family.

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

I like to tell people that the best way to recover from a stroke is to be patient and positive; it’s all about their attitude. I could have listened to what my neurologists told my family, but I chose to prove them wrong. Even though, I was angry and upset about the situation; if you don’t like the situation you are in, make a change, it won’t change on its own.

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

My neurologists told my family that I would most likely wouldn’t be able to go back to college, work or take care of myself. Who thinks that they can tell a 20 year old girl what they can and cannot do? My main supported was ME; my goal was to prove my doctors wrong. My parents and sister were the most helpful people while I was in the hospital; they were and are beyond amazing. My sister kept my family calm and updated my friends on my status; she pretty much lived with me in the hospital. My friends and family were pretty awesome at sending me cards, notes and messages on a regular basis. My favorite professor from college called me regularly when I was in rehab to check on me; that meant everything to me.

It’s all about your attitude!

What’s your favorite motivation song?

“Better Things” by The Bouncing Souls – a cover of The Kinks

What is something quirky/fun about yourself?

I am a cat lady, but I only have two cats; their names are Betty and Stuffing. I like camping and kayaking. I play a lot of video games.

How did you hear about NOPW?

From Instagram! 

Follow Molly on instagram HERE!

Leah | 15 | MO

By | Teens, Female | No Comments

How old were you when you had your stroke? 15

  • Date of your stroke? 03/24/2008
  • What general area do you live in? Kansas City, MO
  • Type of Stroke? I had a vertebral artery dissection
  • Any known reasons for your stroke? Nope, maybe was just born with a small artery.
  • What were your symptoms? I had numbness on one side of my body, a headache, vertigo and one side of my face was drooping. I was very dizzy and the room started to spin and then I started to get sick and then I had memory loss until the next morning.
  • Were you administered TPA (Tissue Plasminogen Activator) within the first 3-5 hours of your stroke? No

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

Talk to others who have had strokes and know what your going through. I had my stroke before Amy had hers and started this group so I really knew no one who had experienced what I did as a young person. I told my parents that I wasn’t depressed but I really was. I was frustrated that this happened to me for no reason and changed my life forever. With time and medication I have finally come to terms with it and see it in a different light.

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

After a few months I finally got the feeling back in my face along with my taste. I had severe headaches for the first few years following my stroke but after the nerves grew back and I found the proper medication they became tolerable.

Talk to others who have had strokes and know what your going through.

What is something quirky/fun about yourself?

I have lived in Kansas City my whole life and love the Royals, Chiefs, Sporting KC and KU basketball.

What’s your Instagram handle?

@darlingleahh

How did you hear about NOPW?

Amy was in the Buck O’Neil seat at a Royals game that I was watching on tv.

Abigail | 35 | UT

By | 30's, Female | No Comments

How old were you when you had your stroke? 35

  • Date of your stroke? 01/25/2012
  • What general area do you live in? Orem, Utah
  • Type of Stroke? Acute stroke near brain stem, cerebellum
  • Any known reasons for your stroke? Chiropractic adjustment my neck caused a dissection in my right vertebral artery, blood clotted to heal the tear, that caused the stroke.
  • What were your symptoms? Dizzy, lightheaded, losing voice, right side numbness, massive pain at the base of my head, vision impairment, right side large motor impairment, constant nystagmus with frequent severe episodes for about a year.
  • Where did you go for in-patient rehab? Utah Valley Regional Medical Center
  • Where did you go for out-patient rehab?  PT who treated me at UVRMC also did the outpatient visits. I’m not sure but I think that was through Utah Home Health
What are your biggest challenges/residual effects?

I made a remarkable full recovery. I learned to walk again. I started driving again 9 months post stroke. I still have challenges with my balance and mild vision issues, both are more severe when I am tired. I’ll stumble a little when I am tired, and if it is dark and I am lacking visual points of reference. At times, I have difficulty spitting out a thought and my memory is not as sharp. These are not things that disrupt me from living a normal life, fortunately. They are just subtle reminders of my experience, and help me remember to be grateful for my LIFE. Along with physical therapy, I used yoga to assist me in recovering. Yoga made the biggest difference in getting my balance to where it is today, and helping my vision through focus and concentration. I wrote my yoga healing story related to the stroke back in June 2012 (that quickly people could no longer tell I had physical deficiencies!). I will email you a copy of that story, as it is much more eloquent than this. 🙂

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

I spent three weeks in the hospital. First, my now husband came every evening and spent time with me. Second, my sister visited frequently. I had many other visitors (friends, coworkers, and family) and I never turned down an opportunity for a visit. I made friends with the chaplain assigned to me. I got to know the nurses, I learned about their families, I heard there stories. I thanked them often, and this kept me in a place of gratitude. I wrote an affirmation on the whiteboard in my room “I am perfectly capable of healing. My body and brain know perfectly how to heal.” AND I printed a picture of me in toe stand (an awesome yoga pose) at the beach in Hawaii (where I was the week before I had the stroke) and I put that on the wall in front of my bed so I would see it all the time. My mom brought my yoga mat to the hospital, and I got on that mat as much as I could (I could only do floor postures at that point, but it kept me motivated and kept me in a positive frame of mind).

Get moving. In any way you can, as often as possible. Yoga, physical therapy, walking, thumb wars, ANY movement.

What keeps you going now?

Toe stand will be mine again!! Having goals and dreams keeps me going. After the stroke, I became a Registered Yoga Teacher and completed Health Coach Certification at the Institute from Integrative Nutrition, and started my own health and wellness business. My family supported me every step of the way. I practice and teach lots of yoga. It helps me physically and emotionally, and I want all people to have a taste of that! I have also since given birth to another baby and taking care of my family keeps me happy.

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

1. Get moving. In any way you can, as often as possible. Yoga, physical therapy, walking, thumb wars, ANY movement. Moving the body helps to rebuild neurotransmittors in the brain, so we can relearn more quickly. 2. Eat healthy. You feel as good as you fuel. Eat lots of brain food – like walnuts, high quality fish oil, etc. 3. Positive affirmations. Staying positive is mandatory. Write affirmations, post vision boards, whatever makes you feel uplifted and keeps you working toward goals. Yes, have small incremental goals that you can spend time on daily. Have big dreams! Be full of life.

Any other missing details to your story?

Trust your body’s intuition. That is what saved my life. The EMT who arrived on “the scene” told me I had vertigo. He asked, “do you really want me to take you to the hospital in an ambulance?” I was like, hell yes! I knew I was having a stroke. For that reason, I made it to the hospital in well under an hour and was treated quickly. The doctors all said it could take up to 2 years for me to recover. Most of my recovery happened within 5 months. Yay!

What is something quirky/fun about yourself?

I am mother to 8 children in my blended family, ages 18 to 2 months. I love figuring out ways to get them to want to eat healthy. 🙂 Takes some creativity (like snakes made out of strawberries and bananas). And lots of patience.

Amy Jo | 29 | MO

By | 20's, Female | No Comments

How old were you when you had your stroke? 29

  • Date of your stroke?  12/18/2012
  • What general area do you live in?  Kansas City, MO
  • Type of Stroke? Ischemic
  • What were the known reasons for your stroke? Carotid artery dissection. I was working out before I had my stroke, I had no symptoms.
  • Where did you go for in-patient rehab?  Mid America Rehabilitation Hospital
  • Where did you go for outpatient rehab? Mid America Rehabilitation Hospital

W hat was something that kept you going during your stay in the hospital that might encourage others? My friends and family were the absolute best! I got some great care packages, socks ,blankets, books, treats. Those things helped a ton and were invaluable! My mom and boyfriend traded nights to stay with me so I didn’t have to be alone which really helped me through my time at the hospitals. I knew the Lord was with me from the start like He always has been. I used a lot of my free time to pray and build a relationship with Him which is why I truly feel this was a blessing in disguise.

What keeps you motivated now? My friends, family and future self keep me going! You probably think it’s weird, but I say my future self because it helps me focus. I can just hear her encouraging me to keep working because she knows how good it’s going to get. I will never give up on myself! I see the recovery happening, I mean I went from absolutely no movement on the left side to walking on my own, driving and working again in less than a year so that tells me the best is yet to come! If you know someone going through recovery stay on them and encourage them always!

What are your biggest challenges/residual effects?

I still have left side weakness in my limbs. I lack motor function in my hand and still walk with a brace sometimes, without it I walk very slow. I was fortunate to have no cognitive problems. I can think, talk, eat and remember things the same as before.

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

NEVER NEVER NEVER give up!!! You are in charge of your recovery, don’t wait for someone to “fix” you. Also don’t let anyone tell you you will never be able to do something! Keep pushing towards your goals. And another thing, set short term goals. There is no fast lane through recovery. If there were, trust me, I would have found it! I CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH HIM WHO STRENGTHENS ME. Philippians 4:13
Look up this survivor for inspiration Tom Balchin helped me reading about him.

NEVER NEVER NEVER give up!!! You are in charge of your recovery, don’t wait for someone to “fix” you.

What is something quirky/fun about yourself?

I’m a weirdo and like to laugh at myself!

Any other missing details to your story?

 I was a working Fire Fighter when I had my stroke and I am determined to go back one day! I am still working for the Fire Dept and I thank God every day for that. It’s not gonna be to far out of reach!