May 24, 2013 started as a regular Friday morning. I was getting ready for another staff training at the Boys and Girls Club. I had a doctor’s appointment that morning not knowing my life was about to change. At the beginning of my check up, the nurse was checking what I thought was my temperature but turned out to be the oxygen level to my brain, which was at 69%. I was told I needed to go the emergency room ASAP.
hero_image_alt_text===Photo of A. Jaye
thumbnail_alt_text===Photo of A. Jaye
When I arrived at the emergency room my oxygen level had dropped to 67% and my blood pressure was 276/217. The doctor thought I was having a heart attack. I was rushed into ICU where I spent 4 days. An angiogram was done thinking my heart had blockages throughout the arteries. I was told they would put stints in to help open my valves. After the procedure, there was not a blockage and at 2:00 am Tuesday morning, while I was sleeping, I had a major stroke. I woke my sister up and told her I didn't feel right. I tried to get up and couldn't walk and the left side of my body was unable to function. I was immediately rushed to have a CAT scan and other tests which revealed I had a massive stroke.
Rehabilitation started immediately. The hospital became my home for the next month. Each day I had 4 hours of intense therapy. I had to teach my body to walk and speak again…wondering if this was how I was going to spend the rest of my life.
I refused to give up and accepted the challenge. After years of speech, physical and occupational therapy, I'm alive to tell my story. I now take better care of myself. Eating properly and exercising has helped me regain my confidence and share my personal story with others. For 7 months I was away from what I loved - working with the hundreds of members of the Boys and Girls Club.
Though I occasionally walk with a cane and my speech is still slightly slurred, I'm happy to be alive and I have so many to thank for that. My great team of doctors, neurologist, physical therapists, friends, family and my daughter "Baby Girl."
A. Jaye Johnson
AHA Advocate & Stroke Survivor