Battle for my Brain : My Personal Struggle with Multiple Strokes

Many of you may not know, but in late April 2014 I was the victim of multiple strokes. Four of them to be exact. These were caused by Endocarditis (an infection on my aortic heart valve). Some of that infection dislodged in large chunks and caused strokes in four separate parts of my brain. Thus began the battle for my brain and for my life.

When I was having the strokes my fiance recognized that having difficulties with confusion and understanding simple things. She then immediately transported me to the local hospital where they began diagnostics on me. I was soon sent to a larger hospital in for treatment.

Their diagnostic testing found the strokes were caused by Endocarditis, treatment began to kill the infection that was afflicting me.

The infection did not respond to the antibiotics they were administering as well as the doctors liked. I then underwent heart surgery to remove and replace the infected valve. I went under the knife for surgery for the valve replacement as well as a second surgery several days later to relieve pericardial effusion (buildup of excess fluid around the heart).

After months of recovery I am back to my former health, feeling great and doing well with no lasting side effects from my strokes. It is my opinion that quick action on my fiance’s part is why I am with everyone today and even able to get married at the end of September. My returned health is also due to the tireless effort of the staff of UPMC Presbyterian and UPMC Montefiore Hospitals in Pittsburgh, PA.

The moral of this story is that anyone can have a stroke. Whether you are chronically sick or in good health medical emergencies can happen. It is also important to note that in my case I did not think anything was wrong with me, but to my fiance she saw and understood the symptoms I was having. From my point of view I was fine but in reality I was in a losing battle. Her quick thinking and recognition of the situation gave me a fighting chance.

For the sake of your friends and loved ones, it is important to learn the signs of someone who may be suffering from a stroke. If you act FAST, you may save their life.

The acronym F.A.S.T. is the easiest way to remember the signs:

: FACE: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

: ARMS: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

: SPEECH: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?

: TIME: If you observe any of these signs, call 9–1–1 immediately.

Other symptoms may include:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg especially on one side of the body.
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause.

For more information about the symptoms of stroke visit the National Stroke Association’s website : www.stroke.org.

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