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Jason C.


Stroke? Me?

At the age of 26 I underwent open heart surgery to repair a leaky aortic valve. As a result, I was placed on blood thinners and being closely monitored for clotting. Approximately a year later, I was cooking dinner when my right hand started to tingle like it was falling asleep. I ignored it and kept cooking. Then my right leg started to tingle along with the right side of my face. I assumed I was allergic to something I was cooking with. I then decided maybe I was a little hungry so grabbed something to eat and then laid down. I closed my eyes and after about 10 minutes opened them and saw nothing. I found my phone and managed to dial a friend of mine who was a nurse and asked her what I should do (as if I didn't know but I wanted to hear it from a medical professional). She said, "Go to the emergency room, you are having a stroke." My thoughts were 1) I am too young to have a stroke and 2) doesn't a stroke normally affect the left side of the body. Conclusion: I was not having a stroke but went to the ER anyway. A friend drove me to the ER (about 2 minutes away). I managed to walk in by myself, sat down and told them my symptoms. I was immediately taken back to a room and within a matter of 2-3 minutes, I was unable to stand or walk without assistance. After a few tests, the diagnosis was that there was no diagnosis.

I called my family and told them not to worry that I had what might have been a stroke but was fine. After a couple of days worth of test, finally one test revealed what had happened. A bubble study on my heart revealed that I had a small hole in my heart through which a blood clot escaped and I had had a stroke. My biggest fear was that I would not be able to see clearly again or that I would have to wear special glasses. I could not see except for very close up, could not write, and could not walk without the assistance of a cane. My sight finally returned, my writing improved and I walked with a cane for a couple of months.

Almost 8 years later, I have no residual effects from the stroke except that my right hand will shake sometimes and get weak if I am really tired. In 2011, I ran my first half marathon—something I had wanted to do but didn't think was possible after my heart surgery and stroke. To commerate this, I got a tattoo of a human heart with "13.1" on it.

« Learn more about the signs and symptoms of stroke.


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