Meet Pamela, who reached her goal of doing a 5k just two months after her stroke

Headaches began really tormenting me in the summer of 2008.  They would come on suddenly as if I was being hit in the back of the neck with a 2×4 was the best way I could describe it.  They would come and go.  I went to multiple doctors trying to figure out the cause.

Fast forward to the month of August 2016 and the headaches were becoming extreme again.   No such luck with mainstream medical again either.  I had dinner with a friend Friday night and she said if I wasn’t better by Monday she would like me to see her Chiropractor and he also has a medical doctor in his office, they work together. Monday came and I made an appointment, he was able to get me in that afternoon.  I felt so much better!  He asked me to return Wednesday, August 17th for a follow up.  I came back, feeling better, and had an intuition like “why should I do this follow up when I feel better?”  But now I’ve paid the copay, so I might as well. I’d been to chiropractors my whole life, what could go wrong?

He adjusted my right side and I laid face down for the left side, he began with the neck.  I had my eyes closed and took the deep breath as he suggested and when he cracked that time, I heard a loud “POP” and saw a bright light, as if I was in a dark room and someone suddenly turned a light on.  I said “Good one, doc, we got that one!” and was speaking fine.  I rolled over onto my back.  Then I couldn’t feel my left arm or leg.  I was about to fall off the table! All of a sudden my left hand started spasming uncontrollably…I told him I wasn’t doing it.  He was shocked and went to get the dr.  They gave me the smile test, I passed, they asked if they could call an ambulance and I said “Absolutely!”

I didn’t know what was going on. It was an off feeling, no pain, no nothing.  The ambulance was there in 6 minutes.  I began getting double vision right before they showed up.  After they got me on the stretcher, I got nauseous.  Once inside the ambulance, I got sick. It’s a blurr once there…one of the nice ER nurses made phone calls for me…my parents had a 3 hour drive, so they were on their way.  The chiropractor, a Christian man, came to the ER as he was genuinely concerned.

At some point, the neurosurgeon came in and told me I had a stroke.  I didn’t believe it.  I was 36 years old, in the prime of my career managing a workforce region of 4 offices.  He must have gotten me mixed up with someone else!!!  In addition to just having a stroke, the scans also found Hydrocephalus (excess water on the brain) and the lab work found hyponatremia (low sodium).  I heard him say he needed to do emergency brain surgery right away.  At this point, I didn’t care, I wanted the headaches gone.

I was in the neuro ICU for 2 weeks.  They said I was lucky to be alive. My blood pressure was out of control, this was the first time in my life.  Doctors after doctors were all coming by to check me out.  There was little sleep.  If the drain machine was ½” off, I could feel my head hurt.  It was like I was stuck in a bad dream.  The neurosurgeon gave me the option to do a “shunt” or a newer procedure called an ETV and would be brain surgery.  I opted for it. He and the nurses gave outstanding bedside manner.  I kept trying to remember their names as I could feel the short-term memory already slipping.  During the major surgery, the last I remember was meeting the anesthesiologist and fighting going to sleep.  I wasn’t sure if I would wake up again to see my family.  Somehow I fell asleep.  Either I woke up, but it feels too real, and sat up.  There were 7 “angels” in the operating room.  They were light beings.  They wore white satin or silk, I’m not sure.  They did not have faces, wings or shoes, they glowed.  They did not say anything.  They gave a feeling of comfort and everything was going to be okay.  They were against the wall behind me.

After 3 weeks in the hospital, I entered the Kansas Rehabilitation Hospital. There we worked on walking, climbing stairs, using a driving simulator and hand/eye coordination activities.  I felt like a little kid learning all over again.  We found out hydrocephalus awareness month was in October so my goal was to get better to do a 5K for it.  Mission accomplished.

Today, the residual effects are migraines from light sensitivity, headaches, numbness in my left hand and cognitive problems. I took another role and an opportunity to move closer to family and my boyfriend.  It has been a major adjustment and still is every day. It has been a little over a year and I continue to feel angry at myself for walking into that chiropractor and allowing this to happen.  To deal with it, I try to help with stroke and chiropractic stroke awareness. I had no clue a stroke could occur from a chiropractor and I’m learning, most people don’t!  I spoke at the Stormont Vail stroke symposium this year as one of the survivor stories.  That was an honor.  I couldn’t do it without crying though.  I cry for the woman I was.