To young to have a stroke?
A healthy, 16 year old girl. Not the typical suspect to have a stroke. Well that was me. This is my story.
It was February 27th, 2007, and I was a sophomore in high school--sixteen years old. One would say I was the least likely candidate to have a hemorrhagic stroke. I would say the doctors would still say today I was an unlikely candidate, as they are not really sure what caused a blood vessel to burst, causing the crevices in my brain to fill with blood, the pressure in my brain to swell, paralysis on the left side of my body to occur, followed by a fifteen day stint in the PICU at the local hospital and months of learning to cope with memory issues.
That day will forever be remembered, by not only my family, and myself but also by many of my friends as well. I was a three-sport athlete that year and softball season had just begun. I had come home from practice and was laying on the couch. My parents had told me that I was going to have to pick up my little brother from his American Legion practice that night, since they were on their way home from watching my older brother pitch at VMI that night. I remember feeling sick to my stomach, because the Noro-virus, a pretty violent stomach bug was going around my high-school and I thought for certain I was to be the next victim. I called my parents telling them I wasn't sure I could make it to pick up my brother without getting sick on the way there. Praise God that I made that phone call, or else I may have had the stroke driving in the car. Luckily my parents were on their way home already and said they could pick my little brother up. When they got home, I told them that I hadn't been feeling well--that I had a stomachache and my head was hurting. I was lying on the couch when all of a sudden I sat up and threw up all over the couch. This is completely out of character for me. My mom then asked me why I didn't get up to go to the bathroom if I knew I was going to throw up. This is where the memory starts to get hazy on me. I remember getting up and walking to the restroom with the assistance of my mom. Halfway to the restroom I told my mom that my leg hurt--apparently this was a red flag of some sort: my parents are both CRNAs, so they work in the hospital every day.
I made it to the restroom when things went from bad to worse. I continued to vomit for I guess was half an hour, in the process locking myself in the bathroom. When my parents finally got in the bathroom, they noticed I was not moving the left-side of my body, even though I had been telling them that I was moving, or when they would ask me to move away from the door so they could get in, I would respond with, "I can't, I'm weak, I can't move." They called 9-1-1, and off to the hospital I went. They ran the spectrum of tests, showing pictures of my brain full of blood. Luckily, eight hours later, I slowly regained the use of the left side of my body. The memory was another story. I barely remember any of being in the hospital, whether it was because of the brain injury or just because your brain is supposed to protect you from that kind of trauma. It took my nine weeks after getting out of the hospital to return to high school. I could not return to the softball field that season. I could not get my driver's license on time, for risk of getting in a car accident. I could not ride rollercoasters for a year due to the G-forces in my brain.
Today, I am a fully recovered, healthy, 23 year old, living and working independently. During college, I started experiencing persistent migraine headaches that the only cause for those they could trace would be possibly be the stroke. So I take medication to control the headaches daily. Other than that, and the occasional lapse of memory, especially with remembering times, numbers, list of things, where my car keys are, and where I parked my car, I am fully healed. I am one of the lucky ones. My neurologist says that if you look closely enough you can tell that the left side of my face has some residual effects from the stroke (less wrinkles in my eyelids on that side), and when I over analyze my photographs I can tell, but my mom says that everyone has a good and bad side. My neurologist also did a test where he tested heat sensitivity, and my left side was definitely less responsive in terms of heat in my lower extremities. So, word to the wise, strokes can strike anyone, even young, healthy people, everyone should be prepared to recognize the warning signs so you can get them help.
National Stroke Association’s mission is to reduce the incidence and impact of stroke by developing compelling education and programs focused on prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and support for all impacted by stroke.