Six months after my stroke…after months of bruises and exhaustion due to blood thinners…I made the decision to have my heart repaired. Heart surgery was scary, but I couldn’t continue to feel this way. I finally got a second opinion from a surgeon who told me that it wasn’t too invasive and the results would be worth it. I knew kids were in my future, and pregnancy and blood thinners are not a good combination.
The surgery went well, but I still wasn’t able to talk about anything. It took me over a year to first write about my stroke. Then it took over a year to put it out there. I am not totally sure why. I am so fortunate for the my recovery. Every doctor and PT in that hospital that I worked with told us how surprised they were that my motor skills were coming back so quickly. They credited the shape I was in for my recovery. I know what a miracle it was.
It wasn’t that easy of a road. Though I was so lucky to walk out of the hospital on my own three days later, I could still felt the difference. My left side was not nearly as strong, and to this day doesn’t work quite as well. I spent quite some time having to think so much harder. It may sound funny, but I would easily switch words around in a sentence. I got good at covering it up, but I was always aware. I just felt like I was living in a bit of a fog.
So many people have that ‘scare’ that makes them take a good look at everything in life. I know I would’t have gotten through it without J, my friends and family. For some reason I felt the need to be more than just in shape and eating right. Over the last two years I gave gotten serious about ‘cleaning up’ my life. Removing toxins, chemicals, doing everything I could to be healthy. J and I were talking kids and I wanted my body and life to get back to the best place it could be.
First off, thank you so much for being a part of my journey. It has been quite an adventurous couple years. I have learned and grown so much, and appreciate everyone who has been a part of this journey more than they know.
I have lived what I would call a ‘healthy’ life for some time now. I have been active my entire life and have done CrossFit for 5 years now. I eat healthy and always keep nutrition on the mind. I try to be green around the house and recycle more that I throw out. In November of 2015 all of my healthy ways were tested.
It was Black Friday. I was sitting at restaurant with my (now) husband, J. We had just ordered our food and were a few sips of wine in when it happened. I was mid-sentence when the words that I was saying came out as a gibberish mess. I stopped, then tried to speak again, but the same mess came out. What was happening?! My brain knew what I wanted to say, but it was like my mouth didn’t want to say it. By that time J realized something was wrong. He grabbed my left arm and asked me if I was ok. I could see him touching my arm through the haze that was setting in around me, but I couldn’t respond. In fact, I couldn’t do anything with my left side. My blank stare into nothingness, the water dripping out of the left side of my mouth as my face started to droop and my inability to respond, quickly put J into action. As we pull up the ER entrance we see a large sign on the building that says Stroke Trauma Center. What are the chances we go to dinner a 1/2 mile down the road from a stroke center. I might have to thank a guardian angel for that one.
Fast forward 3 days and more tests and scans that I can count when the doctors delivered the news. I had, in fact, had a stroke. A full stroke. Is that possible for a healthy 35-year-old? The EKG then showed a hole in my heart that caused a blood clot that went straight to my brain. As I took my required walking laps around the stroke wing, the reality of my situation and how lucky I was truly set in. How could this happen to someone in the shape I was in, living the healthy lifestyle I lived. What I found out is my health was my savior. They told me without a doubt that if I wasn’t in the shape I was in, I would have some severe residual side effects.
The following May I had heart surgery to repair the hole. They said this was important since J and I wanted to have kids soon. Blood thinners and pregnancy aren’t a great match. We will talk more about the fertility journey in the future.
It has taken me well over 2 years to talk about this. I have always been a strong person….and admittedly a little bull-headed person. In my mind, the stroke was something completely out of my control…and something that make me feel weak. I am type A. No question there. To get my head around this was not easy. What I could get my ahead around was that I was beyond lucky for fortunate.