Bambi G.



I was 42 at the time of my stroke. I was in excellent health, very health conscious and a regular at the gym. The night I suffered a stroke, I was working as a copilot at a major airline. We had just landed and passengers were leaving the plane. As I was putting my headsets away, I saw my arm in my lap and I couldn't move it. I knew something was seriously wrong, but had no idea it was a stroke. I tried to tell the captain what was wrong, but he couldn't understand me. I thought I was making perfect sense. I immediately went for my oxygen mask, suspecting it could be a heart attack. Paramedics were called, but they didn't treat it as a stroke because they thought it had to be something minor. They took over an hour to get me to the ER. It wasn't until I got there that I was diagnosed with a massive stroke (ishemic). I couldn't believe it and was in complete denial. In fact, I opted not to take tPA and the possibility of a worse outcome if the doctors were wrong. Surely, they were mistaken.

Unfortunately, they were not. I spent a week in the hospital and underwent every test imaginable; at least, that's what it seemed like. Despite all of that, they were unable to figure out the cause. There was no family history either. The thought of losing my license to fly was a harsh reality. All the years of hard work and dedication were over in minutes. The FAA revoked my certificate immediately. I was barely able to speak or dress myself, let alone fly an airplane.

After several months and much rehab, which I did myself-Sudoku, Lumosity, guitar and Spanish, I was able to recover 100%. Still, it took two and a half years to regain my FAA medical so that I could fly for the airlines again. Despite the tons of paperwork, endless testing and having to get trained almost all over again, I finally got my job as copilot back. With God's help, the support of family and friends and my doctors, I am thankful to say that I am one of the few that managed to return to flying professionally.

Having been healthy to begin with made my recovery possible and possibly much quicker. I have been back to work for the past two and a half years. This time has gone much faster than the time I was out. I am thankful not just to be back flying, but to be fully recovered. It's one more reminder to never take things for granted.

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