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?