Mariah’s Empowered Stroke Story

June 11th, 2016. I was packing to finally reunite with my husband after being separated for 3 months, due to military training. Everything was perfectly fine, until I was trying to type in the password to my computer. My mind went blank. I couldn’t make sense of anything. What was in my head didn’t come out right when I spoke, I was very confused, and had a very bad headache. My father took me to the ER right away. I was so confused as to what was happening to me. I couldn’t tell the doctors my name, my birthday, and any other information that doctors require to ask you. The headache was getting worse so the doctors gave me medicine for it and I fell asleep. Once I woke up, everything seemed normal. It was like nothing even happened. So they released me with instructions of taking pain relievers for the headache.

June 13th, I woke up again with a splitting headache and medicine wasn’t really breaking it. To make sure I was okay, I went to the ER again. I had a stomach bug a couple days prior to the first ER visit, so the doctors said that I probably have a brain virus due to the stomach bug and it should go away in a couple of days. I went home with no other treatment besides continuing the pain relievers.

On June 14th, it was another normal day for me. Nothing was wrong until that night. I was in the middle of a conversation with my brothers when all of a sudden, I had that same sensation of not being able to communicate my thoughts again. I figured I was just tired and needed to get some rest.

June 15th. I woke up to my right body numb. I could walk a little bit but I couldn’t use my right arm at all and my vision was altered a little bit. I didn’t know what was going on with me but I figured it would just go away on it’s own. I don’t remember what I texted my husband exactly but I remember thinking whatever I sent him made sense to me. But in my husband’s eyes, he saw red flags. We talked on the phone and he knew something wasn’t right. From 1300 miles away, he called for an ambulance to come get me. The paramedics asked me if I was taking drugs and I felt like they thought I wasn’t in a serious condition. I didn’t blame them, because I was acting a little loopy and thought this whole situation was a joke. When I got to the ER, the doctor gave me simple instructions like touching my nose with my pointer finger and some vision tests. The doctors ordered a CAT scan for my head after seeing me touch my forehead instead of my nose and telling them I couldn’t see a specific area with my right eye. After getting the scan, that was when I was diagnosed with a large stroke.

I viewed the stroke as a cold, like it was something that would be annoying for a little bit but would go away and everything would go back to normal. I was still ignorant as to what it was and how much damage was actually done to my brain. I was 21 years old at the time, and the doctors have been reassuring me that nothing was wrong these past 5 days, so why would I be concerned. I didn’t realize how serious it was until I couldn’t take care of myself. I couldn’t do the simplest tasks, like eating, dressing myself, brushing my teeth, ect. I couldn’t communicate to anyone properly without losing my words and train of thought. I couldn’t write my name and as an artist, I couldn’t draw a straight line. I tried my best to stay positive but I was scared that I would never recover and that this was my life now.

After 6 years, I still have reoccuring migraines that make me feel the symptoms of my stroke. My mind goes blank, I start to feel the tingling sensation on my right arm, and then I don’t know where my right arm is anymore. There are times when they don’t occur for weeks but there are also times I get them 2-4 times in a day. Each time it happens, it is traumatic for me, and is a constant reminder of that day and the weeks I spent in the hospital.

I am forever grateful to my husband, for knowing the signs and taking action. He was my rock and caretaker throughout that difficult time. I am thankful for my family and friends who have also supported me and my husband. It helped me keep a positive attitude towards the situation. I am forever grateful that I’m alive and recovered as well as I could, despite the migraines. This whole situation has been a wake up call and a reminder of how short life really is and how fast it can be taken away from you. I will never forget that.