Last year, when I was 21, I had three strokes. I was at work when the first one happened. I was dizzy and a little disoriented with a bad headache on the left side of my head and sharp pain at the back of my neck. After an hour and still not feeling well I went home. I took a nap, which is when I believe I had the next two strokes since when I woke up I was so much worse. My head hurt even more and I couldn’t walk straight. I was so dizzy that it caused me to throw up four times. My roommate drove me to the ER. The doctor took a CT scan and when that was clear he ruled my symptoms as a really bad migraine. He gave me a pill for the nausea and the vertigo and told me to take Excedrin for my headache. My nausea and vertigo went away but no matter how often I took Excedrin Migraine for my headaches they never fully went away.
Four days later, April 4th, I passed out at work. I called my mom and she wanted me to see my primary doctor. I had a hard time getting in to see him. It wasn’t until my mom asked to speak with him personally that I got in. Bless him; he skipped his lunch on April 6th to see me. He didn’t like the sound of my symptoms and was angry that the ER doctors in didn’t do further testing. My doctor had me do an MRI and it showed three strokes in my cerebellum. I was immediately admitted into the ER and transferred to another hospital where I stayed for 4 days getting all kinds of tests done. Turns out I have a PFO (hole between my right and left atrial), a clotting disorder, hereditary high cholesterol, and a fainting disorder. The whole situation didn’t hit me until 2 ½ weeks after I was released.
I didn’t know myself that summer. I was sad at first then became angry. Finally I became scared. I was scared that I would have another stroke, one that would have lasting damage, and scared for my life. Mostly I was scared that since I will be considered a high risk pregnancy, I wouldn’t be able to have children, and if I could that something would happen to the baby. I was so depressed and stressed and I would snap at my roommates over everything. That’s not like me at all, I always felt so bad afterwards. I had to distract my mind every second of the day or else I would break down crying. Every night I cried myself to sleep. I cried so hard I got a bunch of little blood vessels under my eyes. I didn’t laugh for real until the beginning of July. I threw myself into my work; I would pick up shifts helping in lumber. I had to ask a day off every week to go to a doctor appointment, otherwise I worked every day. I didn’t have a day off for myself until mid- July. Once school started again I was better. I still had to distract myself during the day but I was mostly myself again. I am a lot better now, still struggle every now and then but I am doing good. I don’t want someone else my age, or anyone, to have to go through what I went through.