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Diary of a Stroke
You always think it’s impossible until it happens to you. Take me, for instance. I am a healthy fourteen-year-old girl. Four days ago, I had a stroke.
On the night of the homecoming game, my life seemed to be flawless. I stood in the stands, dancing and laughing with my band friends and catching up with others I hadn’t seen in weeks. My sister waved goodbye after a short chat and began her walk home. The third quarter had about five minutes left, and Mr. Mason told us to get ready to play “Hey Baby,” one of our stand tunes. I pulled out my music and then turned to talk to my friends.
Although my memory fades at this point, my friends told me that I had seemed completely normal. “Hold on a sec; I have to play.” I stood up, turned to face Mr. Mason, and dropped my flute. I remember it tumbling from my hands in slow motion, then hearing people laughing that a freshman had dropped her flute. Then the laughing stopped. Something was wrong.
An arm reached out to grab my flute, so I drew back. The arm did the same. I reached out again, thinking the arm belonged to someone behind me. The arm came forward again and then retracted. As I began to wonder, I saw my Claddagh ring on the alien limb. Fear seized me as I realized that the arm belonged to me.
My section leaders, along with Mr. Grice, tried desperately to get me to explain. Words were beyond me. They asked for my dad’s cell phone number but I could only repeat “5, 5, 5, 5…” I realized the evening would not end well. I could hear everyone asking questions – I just could not form a single word in response.
After removing my jacket and homecoming mum, two girls took me to a table near the ticket entrance in hopes that I simply needed to cool off. My dad arrived a few minutes later, and by then I’d used my left hand to clamp my right arm down so that it would stop moving of its own eerie will. He took me in his arms and tried to tell me that it would all be alright, that everything would be okay. I wasn’t so sure.
The first set of paramedics decided pretty quickly that I needed to go to the emergency room. They called for another unit to transport me since they couldn’t leave the game. The second crew arrived, started an IV, and put me into the ambulance. They rushed me to the hosptial where my mom was already waiting.
A doctor saw us immediately. He explained that I might have had a seizure because a stroke is nearly impossible for someone my age. Someone took me for a CT scan with my dad staying by my side until the last possible second. When that scan came back “clean,” meaning no evidence of hemorrhage, the doctor called a neurologist. The two doctors discussed whether it was possible that I did have a stroke and whether they should start me on clot-busting medication. Because of my age, I needed to go to different hospital. The doctor asked for an ambulance to transport me to a hospital in Fort Worth.
While we waited for the ambulance to arrive, my parents stood at my bedside and tried to communicate with me in any way possible. Eventually, my dad reached into his pocket and pulled out my cell phone. “Can you type to me?” he asked, and I nodded frantically.
I took a minute to think, unsure of what seemed most important. What would be most worth the effort? I started to type, but only gibberish appeared on the screen. I concentrated harder than I ever had in my life and whispered slowly, “I can understand.”
Tears swam in my dad’s eyes as he heard me repeat the sentence. After notifying the doctors that I could talk, he returned and began to talk with me. I told him what happened, and that I could understand everything they were saying, especially when they talked slowly.
I grew tired as the ambulance arrived and they loaded me into the back, and sadly, speech became impossible again by the time we reached the other hospital. I only wanted to sleep, but my head ached. The paramedics backed off as nurses swarmed around me in pediatrics ICU. So many more questions and eventually, I got morphine and slept. My dad left that night to go home to my brother and sister, and my mom stayed at the hospital with me.
By the time my dad returned eight hours later, I could speak again with a slight slur. Around ten, they took an EKG; around noon, an MRI. By four o’clock I was on a “regular” floor. The neurologist told us the MRI showed I had indeed experienced a stroke – left cortex in the area of speech production. The doctor informed me that I had become one of only six to seven adolescents each year who come to the hospital with a stroke.
Less than a day later, they called me a medical miracle and sent me home.
It took until late Sunday night for me to understand the intensity of my situation, after I asked, “Daddy…do people die from strokes?” He told me that, yes, people died, and I finally understood how lucky I truly had been.
Over the past few days, I have been called a miracle, a lucky girl, and someone who God has a plan for. I do not know which is most true, but I understand that I will never be the same. I still can’t fully feel my right cheek; I may not be able to play the flute as well as I used to; and I am no longer allowed to participate in full-contact taekwondo. I’m here, and as my dad put it - I’ve been given a second chance.
So for now, I don’t know where I’m going, and I don’t know how I’ll get there. What DO I know? I know that I have the power to overcome this stroke’s obstacles, and all the others that will likely come my way. This is my second chance, and I am going to prove that I deserve it.
You always think it’s impossible until it happens to you – look at me. I am a fourteen-year-old girl who had a stroke, and in less than 48 hours I came home.