My Stroke Survivor Story:
At age seventeen, I was a strong, active, and seemingly healthy, senior at Sycamore High School when suddenly I suffered a stroke. During lacrosse training, I noticed the right side of my face was tingling. My teammates and I jokingly questioned if I could be having a stroke; but we didn’t believe it. When I told my parents about my face tingling, they took me straight to the Emergency Department where I passed all the doctor’s physical and mental exams. So, I was sent home.
The next morning, on December 18, 2017, my condition worsened, and my mom insisted on getting an MRI. It was during the MRI, we learned I was having a stroke caused by a brain bleed. My condition was critical; I was in dire need of immediate medical care; and transported to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.
In the Emergency Department, I shared with the medical team that I was planning to go to nursing school. As the doctors and nurses worked on me, they were calm and even provided valuable insight on being a trauma nurse. Despite this team of experienced and professional medical providers knowing my condition was critical, the nurses kept my spirits high and my attention on them. I was completely unaware that I was experiencing a life-altering moment, nor did I realize the unimaginable challenges I would face.
Almost immediately, I was admitted to Cincinnati Children’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit where I spent nearly a month fighting to live.
By Christmas, I lost mobility of the right side of my body, and my left side and vision were severely compromised. During this time, we learned I had an inoperable AVM or Arteriovenous Malformation from an unknown genetic disorder called HHT. After three attempts to stabilize the AVM and weeks in the PICU; I was stable enough to undergo radiosurgery and eventually moved to the neuro trauma unit.
My family and I have been told by various medical professionals throughout the country that it’s a miracle that I am alive and made a full recovery from my stroke. I am incredibly fortunate to live in Cincinnati, OH, where an advanced, innovated Children’s Hospital is located. CCHMC retains the nation’s leading expert medical professionals in their fields, who perform medical miracles every day in our community. Dr. Sudhaker Vadivelu, Dr. Luke Pater, Dr. Michael Taylor, and the PICU attendees, fellows, and nurses are the reasons I am alive today.
At the end of January, I was released from Cincinnati Children’s, however, my road to recovery had just begun… I underwent six months of grueling and intense Physical and Occupational therapies at UC Drake. Thankfully, I was able to regain full mobility, my strength, and vision back. I contribute my physical stroke recover to Dr. Brett Kissela and the extraordinary team of Physical and Occupational Therapists at UC Health, Drake Stroke Recovery Center for encouraging, pushing, and ultimately returning me to a ‘normal’ life.
What I remember from my critical days in the PICU are my nurses. They never tired…they remained focused…and they were determined to do whatever they could to save my life. My mom shared with my PICU nurses that I was planning to go to nursing school. The nurses were very encouraging and hopeful for me that one day I would be able to pursue a career in nursing. Shortly after leaving the hospital, I received my acceptance letter from The University of Cincinnati, College of Nursing. I was excited. I also was determined to earn an opportunity to return to Cincinnati Children’s PICU to work with my nurses and pay forward to other critical kids the same lifesaving medical care I received.
At the end of my sophomore year of nursing school my dream became a reality when I accepted a position to become a Patient Care Assistant in Cincinnati Children’s PICU. Fast forward today…I now have the privilege of being a Co-Op student in the same PICU. I am incredibly fortunate to have this opportunity to learn from the PICU’s team of professional, compassionate, and highly skilled nurses. I am learning and working alongside some of the very nurses whose medical care significantly contributed to saving my life four years ago.
I am frequently reminded how far I have come since that fateful day, and my days as a Cincinnati Children’s PICU patient, fighting to live. I continue to face health challenges and will continue to do so throughout my life. Over the past four years, my parents, siblings, and I have endured and sacrificed a lot for me to get this far. We truly are blessed and incredibly grateful for the support of my doctors and medical teams, our amazing family and friends, my employer, CCHMC Base, UC, College of Nursing, Cincinnati Men-In-Nursing, my mom’s employer, Veritiv Corp, Queen City Spirits LLC., Coach Greg Cole, Sycamore Schools, and Heart Mini.
Cincinnati’s Heart Mini community has been part of my journey since my early rehab days at UC Drake, Stroke Recovery Center. The Heart Mini team is a supportive community…family and continue to encourage me to live my best life. Their work in raising money to fight Heart and Cerebrovascular disease while bringing awareness in recognizing the signs of stroke and calling 911 provides survivors, like me and their families, like mine…HOPE.
As a pediatric stroke survivor, I hope by sharing my survivor story, people remember that seemingly healthy kids and teenagers have strokes too. The signs of stroke in a kid are weakness or numbness on one side of the body, slurred speech or difficulty with language, trouble balancing or walking, and vision problems. My initial symptom was only the numbness of the right side of my face. Healthy kids have strokes and strokes come on suddenly without notice. If you think someone could be having a strong...CALL 911 IMMEDIATELY...you will save their life.
Thank you for supporting the Heart Mini and the #DAVIDSTRONG mission.
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