In December of 2006, I was a healthy 45 year old woman, newly divorced, with a high stress job and living by myself for the first time in my life. I started having severe headaches and couldn’t figure out why.
Two weeks before the onset of the headaches, I had begun to take birth control pills again for premenopausal symptoms. I was in and out of the hospital and clinics for two weeks while trying to figure out what was going on.
My youngest sister had come to stay with me to accompany me to my neurologists. On the morning of the appointment, I woke up, tripped getting into the shower and didn’t quite feel right. After dressing, I reached the top of the staircase and couldn’t figure out how to get down. I ended up sliding down the staircase on my butt. My sister asked if we needed an ambulance but since I could still talk, I told her no.
She quickly drove me to the doctor’s office and asked the doctor if I had had a stroke. He told my sister that I hadn’t but he was going to admit me to the hospital for some additional tests.
A couple of days later, the doctor said I had actually had a stroke. I spent that night crying myself to sleep unsure how I was going to be able to go home and live independently let alone return to work. I couldn’t figure out how to work my Blackberry (this was 2006) or dial the phone that was next to my hospital bed. I couldn’t even wash my hair.
A few days later, I asked one of the wonderful nurses how a healthy 45 year old could have a stroke. She said that it’s becoming more common. I was diagnosed with high blood pressure and high cholesterol. My family genetics at work!
As far as anyone can tell, my outcome was positive, no noticeable deficits. I was lucky! My stroke was a wakeup call. It made me “Stop and Smell the Roses”. Now I play as hard as I work.
I’m thankful for the work the American Heart and American Stroke Association does to educate the public on what can be done to prevent heart disease and reduce stroke. I’m also very thankful for the support of my family and friends who helped me through a very frightening time.