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How old were you when you had your stroke? 28

  • Date of your stroke?  07/04/2016
  • What general area do you live in?   Manassas, Virginia
  • Type of Stroke?  Ischemic
  • Any known reasons for your stroke? Possibly due to RCVS – Reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome
  • What were your symptoms? What were you feeling during your stroke?  I was just a few weeks removed from some of the best performances I had ever had in competition and in the gym. I was sitting in my parents home when I noticed my legs felt heavy as if they were filled with static. I called to my brother in the next room that “my legs feel weird”. Once I went to stand, my legs seemed to disappear from beneath me and I collapses onto the kitchen floor completely disoriented. It was incredibly strange to have the sensation of being in the room WITH my body, rather than IN my body and in control. I asked my brother to call my then girlfriend, now fiancee, into the room as I was near certain that I was dying and as I slipped out of my body, I could only think of having my family by my side.My brother, a hospital corpsman in the U.S. Navy made sure to go through the FAST protocol (Face, arms, speech, TIME) and asked the right questions to assess my functions.My mom got right on the phone and called EMS to us and within that vital 3 hour window, the local hospital was able to determine I had an ischemic stroke, and administered TPA.From there I began to reclaim my identity and independence and recognize that I, at 28 years old, had so much life left to do. I could stay down and be a victim, or stand in the grace that a stroke provides and claim victory as a SURVIVOR of stroke.
  • Were you administered TPA (Tissue Plasminogen Activator) within the first 3-5 hours of your stroke? Yes
  • Where did you go for inpatient rehab? A dedicated rehabilitation hospital in Northern Virginia.
  • Where did you go for outpatient rehab? The outpatient services of the first hospital where I was seen after my stroke.
Any therapy tips you picked up during your time in therapy that might help others?

A community that is interested and maybe even invested in your growth and recovery is so vital. Recovery and rehabilitation are ongoing. Just as we would not stop working out because we had a nice jog today, we cannot give up on our recovery efforts to stay in charge of our lives. Community matters.

What are your biggest challenges/residual effects?

Now, I am a bit more forgetful and aphasia is still a part of the effects. Physically, my affected side fatigues much more quickly. I will notice my leg begin to drag after a certain level of exertion. Also, if I work at a desk for long periods, the exposure seems to give me a bit more cognitive fatigue than before. I cannot play video games or stare at computer monitors for quite as long.

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

Find the community. Get to the voices that know your story is a HUMAN story and not some one off. Focus on the voices that want to see you grow and come through your stroke. Remember that you are NOT what happened to you.

What keeps you going now? 

I hope that I will continue to meet survivors and other people going through life challenges. I want to bring some kind of hope, or show them that they too can move the mountain in their life to continue forward.

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

You may be your first and greatest ally. That voice in your mind should be one that uplifts and if it is tearing you down, then someone else placed it there. Introspection that calls on us to reflect on why we think as we do, and to evaluate our valued relationships is a major key. We need to know what moves us forward and seek more of that in our lives. We are survivors, and not victims of stroke.

What is something quirky/fun about yourself? Any hobbies?

I actually like romantic comedies for some odd reason. I enjoy training and on occasion have competed in olympic-style weightlifting. I am a long time martial artist in the styles of Brazilian jiu jitsu, muay thai, and karate though I am not as active as I once was with training or competing.

What’s your favorite motivation song?

Sam Cooke – A change is gonna come

What’s your Instagram handle? You don’t have to share, but other young stroke survivors could follow you!

@vince.856

How did you find out about NOPW?

My physical therapist from St. Luke’s told me!

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