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Emily A.



It was the worst day of my life. And the beginning of it.

I had worked late and was the last one out of the office. I came home and met my husband on our porch and sat down with him to visit for a minute before we went inside.

What I was feeling didn't make any sense, it felt like someone was pouring a glass of warm water over my head. I felt the warm sensation "pour over" the left side of my body and everything relaxed. I started to fall. My husband looked at me and asked what was wrong. I told him I didn't know and I kept slumping over.

He ran in to get his phone and when he came out he kept asking me if my leg hurt. I was crumpled in a lump on the porch at that point, but I couldn't feel anything. I couldn't move either, but I was strangely calm and detached. When the paramedics came they asked about my leg too... I felt nothing. Then they unfolded me. I had tried to catch myself by holding onto the porch railing, which didn't work out so well. I twisted my whole body–dislocated my ankle & my knee & tore my mcl. My foot was snapped backwards and my knee was twisted in at a crazy angle. It was in the ambulance that I heard it for the first time, "you've had a stroke". That's why I couldn't feel my leg. I was paralyzed from the hip down on the left side. I had some weakness in my left arm, but it was nothing compared to the leg.

They told me if I had stayed an extra 30 minutes at work, I would've been alone and died. If it had happened behind the wheel, I would've died. They said I had about a 5-minute window, and if my husband hadn't been there talking to me when it happened, I probably would have been dead by the time he came back into the room.

So you see–it was the worst day of my life. And the beginning of it.

I was diagnosed with a serious heart condition when I was 28, 2 months before I got married. They told me if they hadn't caught it, then I wouldn't have made it past age 30. When I collapsed from severe CHF at 32 they said I wouldn't have made it past 35. When I had the stroke at 34 they said it was a miracle I made it that far at all. The left side of my heart had stopped and blood had pooled in one of the ventricles. A large clot broke off and hit my brain like a bomb.

I did so much physical therapy. At first I was in braces from my foot up to my hip and using a walker every day (that felt like forever). Then I had a bad limp. Now, unless you really watch me you wouldn't know the difference. I'm still slow on stairs and my leg drags a little when I'm tired. I still can't feel most of my left leg below the knee. I have difficulty moving my toes. And sometimes I still get agonizing leg cramps because my left leg is still so much weaker than my right. BUT I'M ALIVE. And I just turned 40! (Way past my "expiration date")

I got my pacemaker/defibrillator two months after my stroke and everything changed for me. I felt GOOD. Alive. ON FIRE! I'd never felt that good before and I still do.

Has it only been a little over 5 years? Sometimes it feels like yesterday. Sometimes it feels like several life times ago. All those agonizing hours where I wondered if I'd ever be better... I've discovered how strong I am, how much my husband loves me, how many people truly care for me, and more than ever I believe every day is a gift.

Now my doctors say I'm going to get "old & wrinkly"–and I think that's fabulous!


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Display of the Faces of Stroke stories does not imply National Stroke Association's endorsement of any product, treatment, service or entity. National Stroke Association strongly recommends that people ask a healthcare professional about diagnosis and treatment questions before using any product, treatment or service. The views expressed through the stories reflect those of the authors and do not reflect the opinion of National Stroke Association.

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