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.
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”.