Introducing another brave soul in our Laugh Always Spotlight – Wrae Sanders. Sometimes a life changing event alters the rest of your life and you must have to learn to live with it. Please read on to read what happened with Wrae.
Late March, 2013. I was a mom of three, working full time as a mental health associate in a large mental health facility. I loved my job, but my marriage and home life were falling apart. My younger son had been diagnosed with ADHD and Autism two years earlier, but my husband hadn’t quite caught on to the diagnosis and the support that I needed. He was doing great with our son and other two kids, but me? Not so much. At that point, I wasn’t sleeping well. I wasn’t eating well, and I was constantly stressed out.
I started having bad headaches, and I just assumed they were due to being busy and not taking care of myself, but I kept going. One headache went big, however, and I couldn’t ignore it.
On March 30, 2013, I was at work, pulling in overtime. I was scheduled to work until 7 PM, instead of my usual 3 PM. I didn’t mind this. As I previously stated, I loved my job, and on that day, I was at a semi-outpatient unit away from the main facility. I’d had a bad headache all day, but as the day went by, it just got worse. At one point, my right arm started to feel funny and I couldn’t even hold onto the crayon I was coloring with. Weird. My vision was a bit blurry, and I was starting to get nauseated. At this point, I decided to go home. I called the scheduling secretary and told him I wasn’t feeling well and drove home. NOTE: If you even think you are having a stroke, please do NOT DRIVE! Please have someone drive you! Looking back, the nurse that I was working with felt terrible once she found out what had happened, but neither of us knew at the time, so I wasn’t mad at her. Even more ironic? The building I was in is literally within walking distance of a hospital.
I drove home and all I wanted was to go to bed and go to sleep, as I had done before with similar headaches. I got into bed and something happened. I couldn’t move my arm. NOTE: If you cannot move body parts, something is terribly wrong. Also, if you are showing signs of a stroke, DO NOT GO TO SLEEP!! This can end very badly. I started crying because I had no idea what was going on, and at that point, my husband, Matthew, called my mother. He was also a bit freaked out, and didn’t quite know what to do.
My mom took me to the hospital while Matthew stayed at home with the kids. She had to sign me in because I couldn’t write, and as soon as the staff realized what was going on, I was taken back into an exam room. My blood pressure was way out there- I’ll never forget the 200/110 reading and the look on the nurse’s face. I was immediately taken to get a CT scan. Within a half hour (if even that), it was determined that I was most likely having a stroke and needed to be taken downtown to a different facility. My mom left at that point, but I do remember telling her that if something happened and I didn’t make it, to tell my babies that I loved them. She is not a crier, but she cried as she left.
I don’t remember the trip downtown and what happened after, because I finally fell asleep, but I woke up on the stroke unit a few hours later. It was Easter Sunday. The neurologists told me that I had, in fact, had a TIA (trans ischemic attack, otherwise known as a mini-stroke), and it had occurred due to a migraine. This happened because the pain from the migraine agitated a blood vessel in my brain and things went bad from there. It had occurred on the left side of my brain, which is why my right side had gone all out of whack.
I was only 30, so this made me the youngest patient on the unit at the time.
I stayed in the hospital a couple of days, had a slight bit of physical therapy and went home. I started seeing a neurologist. I was told then to start making changes in my life to eliminate stress, and I made a big one by changing my job- I found a regular unit to work on instead of being on a different one everyday. I went to my favorite unit, a unit for kids with autism and other developmental and behavioral disorders. I started taking care of myself more. I spend more time with my friends, kids and family. I started doing what made me happy. I learned to have all the fun I possibly can each day, because I almost lost the chance to do so. Every year on March 30, I do something fun to celebrate my life. I also take a lot less crap than I used to.
The neurologists at the hospital warned my husband and I that there would be changes, and some of them would not be fun. They did not lie. Over time, I realized exactly what they meant. I have had migraines since the stroke, a few that have been so bad that I have had to go to the ER. Thankfully, I have medications that prevent this. I have a speech problem called aphasia, which means I jumble my words sometimes, or I have problems finding the right words to say. I sometimes pause when I am doing this. It is incredibly frustrating, especially for someone that talks a lot! This gets worse during a migraine. I have learned to slow down and explain this issues to others when I need to. I have some slight issues with balance. My short-term memory has been affected. If I don’t write things down, I may not remember them. I have an app on my phone that I use to write things down to help me remember things. My kids remind me of things a lot.
I’ve learned to adjust to these things over the years. It can be hard, but it beats not being alive to tell the story.
Wrae is a mental health and parenting blogger in Louisville, KY. She is married and has three children, who are 12, 11 and 9. She has a BA in Clinical Psychology from Spalding University. When she is not writing, Wrae spends time with her family and friends, or is reading and/or listening to a true crime podcast. She also enjoys coloring in adult coloring books.
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Thank you for taking the time to read Wrae’s journey and how she lives her life after a traumatic event. If you have a story that you want to share, please connect with me and I would love to tell it!
If you want to read more stories like this, please head on over to the Laugh Always Spotlight Edition section or you can click on this recent post here – Over the Rainbow – Laugh Always Spotlight Edition