Friday, June 24, 2016

Life changes

As I sit here and reflect on the past couple weeks, it feels so surreal to fathom what actually happened to me and the impact it is having on my family and every day life.  On June 10th, I left work early because I was not feeling well.  My head hadn't felt right all day, and I continued to feel worse as the day went on.  I thought I needed sleep (I did not sleep well the night before) and thought I may be getting a cold.  It was a busy time for me at work with preparing for graduation and finishing up the school year.  I felt okay the rest of the night and took some NyQuil to help my symptoms and to sleep well, knowing I had a long day ahead of me.  On Saturday morning, June 11th, I woke up at 3:40am with excruciating pain on my head and neck area.  I took some Ib Profin, got some ice, and thought "maybe I should visit urgent care when they open" because it no longer felt within a reasonable amount of pain.  I then got very dizzy, made my way to the restroom, then became more nauseous, then numb.  I called out for my husband and asked him to call 911.  I knew something wasn't right and I couldn't move.  He called the ambulance and they came right away.  My right side was somewhat numb and my head hurt.  They weren't exactly sure what was happening, they thought maybe a panic attack or a migraine, but nonetheless they took me to the ER.  

While there, my symptoms got worse.  I felt my right side go completely numb and my throat began to close up.  I remember complaining I couldn't swallow and I couldn't move my right side.  I soon began to gasp for air.  At that time the nurses and doctors sedated me and inserted a breathing tube to help me breath.  While I was out, they were consulting with specialists at OHSU and they could tell then that I was having a stroke.  They immediately wanted me up there, so a helicopter was ordered.  It took the team probably an hour to get me ready to fly, but indeed they did.  I was life flighted to OHSU.  I was conscious and aware of everything happening around me.  I safely got to OHSU and doctors quickly came in.  I was put on Heparin and an IV to help, which my body was able to calm down.  Doctors ordered another CT scan and could see that one of my arteries had been blocked.  I was able to get my breathing tube out and talk again.  I felt very coherent and knew everything that had happened.  I remember asking for a pen and paper before the tube was out wanting to make sure my co-workers knew what was happening and that they had everything (oh the life of a counselor, I always worry about everyone else).  
At Salem ER, getting me ready to go to OHSU

Everyone was so shocked that I had just had a stroke.  I mean I'm 31 years old, run 20-30 miles a week, eat healthy, and I get a stroke???  How can one explain that?  There are no answers, and strokes, as well as many other conditions/accidents, do not discriminate.  It happened to me.  I had a stroke.  We still do not know the exact cause, but our theory is that I caused trauma to the right side of my neck from a really bad sneezing fit I had from seasonal allergies.  That is the only time I knew I hurt my neck...I literally felt like I gave myself whiplash a few weeks ago from sneezing, so I'm pretty sure this caused the trauma.  

My exact stroke is called a Vertebral Artery Dissection the most common kind of stroke among young people.  I had an MRI as well that clearly showed the tear in my artery and where the blood flow was blocked.  Doctors continued to monitor me, but I was eventually taken off everything, nothing was sticking to me anymore, and I began taking an anticoagulant (blood thinner) medication to continue in aiding against any blood clots.  I was weak in the hospital, but each day I did better than the day before.  I tried walking for the first time 2 days after my stroke and really struggled.  Each day the Physical Therapist and Occupational Therapist came in and did some simple exercises.  I was able to get up on the walker and walk down the hallway.  Doctors were very ecstatic to see the progress in just a couple short days.  They still felt some inpatient rehabilitation would be good for me, so I transferred back to Salem Hospital and went into their rehab facility for a few days.  Most patients are typically there for 1-2 weeks...I was there for 3 days.  Each day I received 3 hours of therapy and did better each day.  My right side was weak and my left side has lost sensation, but my brain was remembering what it was to walk and exercise again.  While my stay was brief here, the team did a great job.  
Seeing Chloe <3

I have a lot on my side that is working in my favor for a quick recovery...being young, active and healthy.  I am still weak on my right side, but I can walk with no assistance and do my everyday tasks.  My other symptoms consist of getting tired quicker in the day, walking with a slight limp, desensitization on my left side, headaches off and on, and feeling lightheaded when I do more activity.  I will not be able to drive for a couple months and I have family over everyday to help with Chloe, and make sure I don't fall, but I'm almost back to normal within this 2 week period.  I get out of the house a least once a day for either errands or appointments, or to visit with friends and family.  
Reading during a visit <3
I am very happy to be home with my family and being able to play and take care of my daughter.  I know this has been such a hard time for everyone.  I remember my family being so worried in the hospital not knowing if I was going to make it.  I hate that those thoughts were with them and that they continue to worry about me.  I wish I could take all that away from them, and I will do my best to do that by continuing to get better each day.  

I can't thank all of my family, friends, co-workers, and even strangers enough for their support throughout this whole ordeal.  I have been shown nothing but unconditional love and support from's so so overwhelming.  I am especially thankful for my husband.  He never left my side and continues to be my rock.  I don't know what I would do without him!!!
I am so thankful and so blessed by everyone.  I am thankful that the impact of the stroke was not worse, that I can still do almost everything I could before this.  I am hopeful that I will run again and compete in my trail races soon.  I am hopeful I will make a full recovery with continued faith, perseverance, and hard work.  I truly believe that God has been at work through everything and He has a plan for me.  Peace and love to all!!

My rock through it all <3

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