I Survived Five Strokes: A Virginia woman shares her life-changing story.

Sunday, October 29th is World Stroke Day. Strokes can occur to anybody and happen without warning. TIAs (transient ischemic attacks), sometimes called mini strokes, are when the symptoms of a stroke quickly resolve and are warning signs of an impending stroke. Learn the signs and symptoms of stroke with Stroke Smart Virginia. 

The following was written and shared by a Virginian who survived several strokes:

On Sunday, April 9, 2023, my life took a dramatic turn. I was a young 81-year-old, fiercely independent, in good health, actively planning vacations, living alone, and enjoying my family and friends. Then suddenly, without warning, I was struck down by a stroke. Having a stroke was a shock to me and those who know me well. 

Before the stroke, I remember having a strange headache. A few days later, I fell backward on the floor as I attempted to kill a bug. Unfortunately, the fall injured my back, and I landed in the hospital for four days. A week after my release, I was resting on my bed as part of my therapy for my back. Suddenly, my left arm, was warm and seemed unrecognizable. I even asked myself, referring to my arm, “What is that?” I touched my arm and used my right hand to try and lift it, and it flopped on the bed. I struggled to get out of bed but couldn’t move. 

Since I was in physical therapy because of my back, I decided to call my Physical Therapist. After I told her what I was experiencing, she said call 911. After calling the emergency number, I contacted my granddaughter, since her number was the first number that came up on my phone. My granddaughter, stayed on the phone with me until the paramedics arrived. Since I was unable to get out of bed, the paramedics smashed in my back door, removing the frame. 

Five men surrounded my bed, asking questions about my symptoms. I was slurring my words and unable to move my left side.  They helped me out of bed and then placed me on a gurney, taking me to a waiting emergency vehicle. They followed my directions to my preferred hospital. Once I arrived in the emergency room, patients were jammed from wall to wall. I overheard one of the paramedics explain my condition. Then, a paramedic rolled me to the waiting room and left me alone. Sitting in a robe without undies and bare feet, I began crying. Ten minutes later, my daughter arrived in the waiting room. “Mom, she said, ” what are you doing here in this waiting room?” She couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t getting care, especially since she noticed that the left side of my face was drooping.   

Since I couldn’t walk, she moved her car to the emergency entrance and tried to help me get into the car. Fortunately, a stranger walked by and helped my daughter put me into the vehicle. We raced home, where my daughter again called 911. She was concerned that I was having a stroke and wanted an EMS team to take me to another hospital, so I could get immediate care.  She requested a nearby volunteer squad that she was familiar with. I rode in the emergency squad to another hospital, where they immediately realized that I had a stroke. Since I arrived within four hours of the stroke, I was able to receive a life-saving blood clot buster medication. 

I remained in the hospital, including rehab, for a month. Currently, I receive outpatient rehabilitation. My left side remains weak, including my left eye. (I am blind in my right eye.)  

Since the stroke, in April, I’ve had four more strokes. I now walk with a cane for stability. My memory, focus, organizational skills and comprehension abilities have deteriorated. I also get tired quickly and have less stamina.  

It will take hard work, determination, and intensive therapy. I am slowly accepting this life-changing event. I am aware that instantaneous changes of the worst kind happen to people every day. 

I remain relatively independent and still live alone. The worst of all, I am prohibited from driving. As an octogenarian, I am in the final stages of my life. But I can enjoy my children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. I enjoy writing, and I still have much to say. I can take up my painting again, rearrange my furniture, change my decor, and enjoy visitors and lunch outings with friends.  

Above all, I am a miracle; how many people survive five strokes and are productive? 

– Sharon