Meet stroke survivor Contessa Siders

My name is Contessa Siders. I am a stroke survivor and this is my story.

I didn’t realize that my Grandma’s story would later become my story, but it did. Two weeks after my grandmother suffered a stroke, I had mine.

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I was in the kitchen making dinner after a long day at work. My husband, Aaron, just got home from work and he went to change his clothes. He shouted down the hallway a question but I couldn’t hear him.  So I went back to talk to him and that is when it happened. I collapsed. The only reason he knew what was going on, is because we just learned the symptoms from when my grandmother had her stroke.

Within three minutes my face was drooping on the right side, my right arm felt heavy and I couldn’t move it, I was not able to speak … I only made noises. Aaron knew that it was time to call 911. I was taken to St. Luke’s Hospital in Sioux City and that is when Dr. Hartman and the awesome nurses were able to start helping me. Since I made it there as fast as possible I was able to get a shot called a TPA. That shot is made to destroy the clot that had formed in my brain. To this day I believe it helped save my life. Unlike my grandmother’s stroke that was due to a medical issue … today the reason for my stroke is still unknown.

After a week in the hospital, I went to Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital in Lincoln, Nebraska. They worked with me every day for over two months. I had to start from the beginning. I had to learn how to read and write, how to walk, and even how to get dressed and brush my teeth.

I continue my days now working hard to rehab and make my body stronger so I can continue to get better. I volunteer at Mercy to help others that may be going through something similar. This is also the reason I helped start a support group, so other stroke survivors and their families have a place to go to feel comfortable and talk about anything they need to help get through this. Along with the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, we have helped the people of Iowa by creating a quality stroke care bill and we continue to fight every day for the rights of stroke survivors.

It hasn’t been easy. I suffer from Aphasia. It makes it hard for me to find the words that I want to say. But just because I don’t talk right, doesn’t mean that I don’t understand what is going on. With great friends and family, plus an amazing support group …. We are getting through this and we get to do great things like this event today!

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