Mei W.


A stroke? At 34?

September 26, 2010 changed my life forever. Early that Sunday morning I suffered a brainstem stroke and was rushed to the ER. Unfortunately, the actual diagnosis of a stroke did not come right away. It took a CT scan, two MRIs, a lumbar puncture, numerous lab tests and nine hours before I was finally informed that I had suffered a stroke. By this time, I could not move from the neck down and was unable to breath sufficiently on my own. Although, I was cognitively aware of my surroundings, the tubes and machines helping me to breathe didn't allow me to speak. I spent the next several weeks attempting to communicate with an alphabet board and eye blinks.

Those first few weeks after the stroke were very difficult. The doctors had given me a very negative prognosis - I'd never walk again, may never breathe on my own, may not be able to swallow, may have problems with urinating, etc. The rehab hospital in Hawaii refused to admit me, saying my condition was too severe. The doctors planned to send me to Denver for treatment. I was overwhelmed. I couldn't express myself. I had tubes for breathing, feeding, and urinating. I wanted so much to hold my baby, but couldn't. He was only 14 months old and needed his parents. Unfortunately, my boyfriend, his father, disappeared after one visit to the ICU. I worried about my son and who would care for him. I cried every day I was in the hospital.

But things got better because of my family and friends. I cannot even begin to express what their support meant to me. I was so depressed, but my family was by my side constantly. And every day someone from my job would visit. It helped to distract me from my situation. Everyone was amazing. That is the one good thing that came from my stroke - I realized how much I am loved. And that feeling is truly amazing.

It's been 18 months since my stroke and I'm far from where I'd like to be. I was able to get off the breathing and feeding machines and I've regained use of all my body parts. I was able to get rehab treatment in Hawaii, allowing me to stay close to my son. I still have difficulty walking. It is slow and unsteady. My handwriting is awful and hard to read. But, my son is thriving and a happy, healthy two year old. I have been able to return to work on a part-time basis. And I'm finally starting to feel like my old self again. Rehabilitation is a slow and very frustrating process, but I continue to see progress. The current gains may be small, but it's encouraging and pushes me to continue.


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