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Stacy K.


Trust your instincts

I was 26. This doesn't happen to people my age. Or so I thought.

It all started on a Sunday evening in early fall 6 years ago. I started feeling a little sick, what appeared to be the onset of a sinus infection. I don't get sick very often and typically don't call into work unless I cannot function. But when Monday morning came, something told me that I needed to go to the doctor. I was less than a year into my new job with a change in insurance networks and hadn't yet established a new primary care physician, so I went to urgent care. By the time I got there (less than a 10-minute drive), my neck had begun to stiffen and I was feeling a little worse, but not terrible. I described to the nurses and doctors what felt like a sinus infection. I was prescribed an anitbiotic and I was on my way. By Wednesday, I was much worse. I had barely eaten, slept and was very nauseous. My brother, who luckily lives in the same town, came to check on me. He immediately told me to get in the car and took me to urgent care again. I could barely hold my head up, but again, I described what I felt like the worst sinus infection of my life. My head felt like it was about to explode. I was prescribed another antibiotic. When my brother came to check on me Thursday, I'm sure it was not a pretty scene. I was sitting in the dark and had not moved from the spot on the couch in which he left me, had not eaten the crackers he sat out Wednesday night, and only drank enough water to take the prescribed pills. I had been "sleeping" on the couch in an upright position with pillows propped on either side of my head and a heating pad on my neck. For the past couple days, any slight lateral position caused extreme pain. Knowing something wasn't right, but not getting the right answers from doctors, he called the person any sibling would call Mom.

My parents lived a few hours away in a small town. On that day, my mom was traveling to a business meeting on the other side of the state. My dad was traveling in the northern part of the state for business as well. Not sure what my brother said, but in what seemed like only a couple short hours, my mom was there. Seeing the state I was in, she gave me two options go to the E.R or go home with her to our hometown doctor. Tired of waiting in waiting rooms here only to get the same answers, I gave in and decided to go home with her. When we arrived in town Friday morning, she took me immediately to the doctor/physician's assistant. They got me in immediately, asked a lot of questions and could tell that I was definitely dehydrated, sleep deprived and in a lot of pain. She gave me a shot for the pain and another prescription to help knock out what they thought was causing my illness. That seemed to help some I was able to sleep a little bit with less pain. I remember waking up screaming. The shot had worn off, laying down in a somewhat propped up sleep position was causing extreme pain, and on top of it, I felt like my head was on fire. Having slept with a heating pad, I immediately began screaming that it had burnt my skin on my head. I could not describe the horrible sharp stinging pain I was experiencing. After taking some other pain medicine, the horrible pain was reduced, but not gone. We went back to the doctor for a checkup and another shot. Feeling "somewhat" better than the day before, I was able to finally lift my head up and spurt out a few words to answer her questions. The lights in the room were very bothersome, and I remember keeping my eyes closed - either because I was unable or did not want to open them. Her thoughts kept turning to migraines. I don't get migraines. Then she made me open my eyes. Immediately, they turned in and crossed. Red flag. I was rushed to the E.R for a MRI. Results showed multiple clots it was a stroke. Doctors and nurses where somewhat puzzled. I was only 26.

Stroke is often regarded as an elderly issue, but it does not discriminate. It can affect the young and old and often times some of the signs are right in front of us. My stroke was caused by a blood disorder called Factor V Leiden. It was diagnosed with it when I was 20 after suffering a DVT (deep vein thrombosis). With it and my stroke, I was misdiagnosed multiple times until the right answer was found. Fortunately for me, my stroke was not massive. I was in the hospital a little over a week, suffered double vision for about 7 months, unable to live on my own for about a year, but eventually returned to my "normal" self.

I tell my story to not only raise awareness, but also to encourage everyone to know the signs, understand the risk factors, and trust your gut.


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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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