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Lacrosse Sticks in Air

I was having a completely normal day...

... like any other 8th grader, until the day wasn’t normal. That evening I was supposed to go to lacrosse practice. I told my mom I didn’t want to go because I had a really bad headache (and headaches were not common for me prior to the stroke). I started to feel sick to my stomach and began throwing up. I thought I had Covid, a stomach bug or the flu. I didn’t think much of it, other than the excruciating headache and extreme tiredness. Then I realized that I couldn’t move my left arm and leg.

Lacrosse Sticks in Air
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At the hospital, I was told that I had a stroke

It turns out that my stroke was caused by an arteriovenous malformation (a group of blood vessels and arteries that are unusually tangled and known as an AVM) that had ruptured in my brain. I was paralyzed on the left side of my body and the left side of my face started to droop. I had brain surgery to remove the AVM and started occupational, physical and speech therapy right away. I was in the intensive care unit and rehabilitation hospital for several weeks.

It has been 3 years and a long, and at times, scary road...

... and one that I’m still on. However, I want to take my experience to raise the awareness that strokes can happen to infants, kids and teens. I want to educate parents and caregivers of the signs of pediatric strokes so their child can get immediate medical attention. A delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis can result in more severe neurological damage and lifelong disabilities.

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When in doubt, seek medical attention immediately

Like adult strokes, immediate medical attention is critical for diagnosis, treatment and recovery. Thanks to the tremendous amount of information and awareness created to educate families about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), thousands of lives have been saved. However pediatric strokes happen to more kids under 17 years of age than the incidences of SIDS – but so few of us are aware of this fact. Pediatric strokes happen and I want families to know the signs.

 

This is the reason why I started this website, Stroke for Change. I want to change the current belief that strokes only happen to older adults and help kids get medical attention as quickly as possible. That way, they can get on the road to health and do the things they want to do. 

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