According to the AHA/ASA nearly 800,000 Americans have a stroke every year. Little did I know I’d be one of them.
A trauma like this alters the course of your being. When it strikes, with no apparent warning, your world is turned upside down. Now imagine being a young mother with 2-year-old twins and a 7-year-old daughter.
My Stroke Journey
This is my first article journaling my stroke journey. I hope to help others, especially younger families dealing with strokes. We rarely hear about stroke survivors being in their early 40’s or younger. All stroke survivors have needs, but ours are different.
I’ve been through several traumas, but by far the biggest one happened on July 19, 2014 when an Ischemic Stroke occurred because of a blood clot that traveled through the hole in my heart aka Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO) into my brain and clogged a blood vessel 60% which deprived my brain of blood flow.
At the time, I didn’t know I had this defect in my heart. I was 44 years old, I had carried 3 babies and I was, to say the least, shocked! This trauma caused the left side of my body to be paralyzed. After my stroke, my quest to learn how to walk again, take a shower safely & operate in the kitchen began.
After being hospitalized for 2 months, coming home to a new life was surely the most difficult piece of the puzzle for my family. I had NO idea what or how to adjust with this new disability. Fortunately my family and friends rallied around us to provide amazing support.
I’m now in year 4 of my stroke recovery. Although I’m grateful to be walking now & thriving in my daily activities my journey has been difficult physically & emotionally. Through it all I have managed to stay grounded with 3 very important tools in my toolbox: clean nutrition, daily exercise & meditation.
What I do know for sure is that I was given a second chance for a reason. I’m alive and thriving to help heal others by sharing the things I’ve learned.
Here are my most important tips to help you and your caregivers understand how to adjust to life post stroke.
Tips for Stroke Survivors and Their Caregivers
- New Needs – Think about the types of equipment, like a shower chair and safety handrails, that need to be installed in the home. Those need to be put in place before coming home.
- Rehabilitation without Walls – Finding excellent outpatient care will be necessary once you’re released from medical care. I was lucky that I qualified for immediate Speech, Occupational & Physical therapies provided to me in the comfort of my own home. What a life saver.
- Support System – When people ask what they can do to help, have a list of things you need. Include essentials like meals, transportation, childcare and caregiver assistance. It takes a village to care for a family when mom is going through stroke rehab.
I can’t end a post on my journey without offering one important piece of advice. You need know what signs to look for to detect a stroke and know when to call 911. The American Stroke Association uses the word FAST to help people to remember the most four important stroke signs:
- F – Face drooping
- A – Arm weakness
- S – Speech difficulty
- T – Time to call 911