Meet Ashley, who says “Its not about success anymore…. its about waking up every day”

I am a 32 year old nurse (Service Line Education Coordinator). While teaching new interns about stroke suffered a SAH (subarachnoid hemorrhage) – NOT joking. Went to local ER and was transferred to the SAH wing at Emory shortly after for 11 days in the Neuro ICU.

I am extremely blessed and lucky to be alive with minimal deficits. The only deficits I have experienced is neuro fatigue, fatigue, vision changes. I am back at work and I am still working as Service Line Education Coordinator for Oncology. I am very blessed to be alive.

As of the 28th of August I was officially 5 months post Subarachnoid Bleed. Although on the outside I look the exact same (Minus some new glasses) what has happened and continues to happen on the inside has been my biggest challenge.

Finding my new purpose and the new me has come with tears and questions of why. There are plenty of days I cry and ask why? There are plenty of days that I have high anxiety thinking that this may happen again. There are plenty of days I would just like to sleep and feel like I never want to leave my bed. (Neuro-fatigue). I do believe I have not quite found my new purpose. I believe I am in the transition phase.

I guess I can explain it like someone who has not walked in high heels before. Like each day I am trying to feel like ” me ” again in my skin. My challenges have been more emotional than physical but the physical deficits and changes have led to a lot of the emotional challenges. I have always been an extreme athlete, skiing, scuba diving, wake boarding, paddle boarding, skating, hiking, biking, running, cross fit, even played Field Hockey throughout college and in Europe. Getting back to my normal work out routine without feeling like I had triple sessions with intense exhaustion has led to severe depressive moments for me.

At times I also feel as though no one understands me except people who have been through this. My boyfriend and family look at me as though I am the same but I am not. I am exhausted all the time.  Even though I am about to turn 33 I sometimes feel 60. Things that used to take me two minutes to do can take me hours if I get distracted.  Someday’s I even feel as if I have lost my drive all together. I was supposed to be a Director one day now truly…..I could care less.

Sometimes I ask myself if I am depressed? Or is this just the new me and my priorities have shifted from being a workaholic to actually living…. AHHHHHHH the “new me” ….. I care more about family, boating, looking at the trees, watching the deer in my back yard, spending time with friends. Its not about money … its not about success anymore…. its about breathing and waking up every day. Its about being here on earth to see my nieces and perhaps have the chance to have a family of my own someday.

I just recently met another young survivor and we are joining a survivor support group together. I believe it will help both of us over achievers! I suppose this is one of my first steps to finding my new purpose to help other survivors find their “new me”.

I hope I can use my experience, nursing knowledge and heart to help others such as myself heal as well as teach other nurses how truly it feels to be on the other side of the coin.