When we think of strokes we often think of the elderly and frail being affected, but that may not always be the case. But even young and middle-aged women can experience stroke.
Jennifer Reilly was just 28 years old when she suffered an ischemic stroke. According to StrokeAssociation.org, “Ischemic stroke accounts for about 87 percent of all cases and occurs when there is an obstruction within a blood vessel supplying blood to the brain. ”
In an interview, Jennifer said that the first sign that something was wrong was complete numbness in half of her left hand while just sitting and reading. She later had a severe, piercing headache that woke her up during the night.
Jennifer was eventually diagnosed with Moyamoya disease. “Moyamoya disease — a rare, progressive cerebrovascular disorder is caused by blocked arteries at the base of the brain, which cuts off blood flow,” her physician Dr. David Liebeskind, professor of neurology and director of outpatient stroke and neurovascular programs said.
Jennifer was smart to recognize the severity of the situation and seek treatment. She began to suffer TIAs, or mini-strokes, daily and eventually needed surgery.
In an interview, Liebeskind said, “the critical piece is to recognize when symptoms cross critical threshold.” Those signs include the sudden onset of weakness and numbness. Difficulties in speaking, seeing, and interacting with other individuals are also possible signs.
Prior to her stroke, Jennifer worked long hours as an event planner in the Los Angeles area. She said that her job now planning several “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer” events gives her a purpose and understanding of what it is like to be faced with “a life-changing diagnosis or illness.”
Teresa Collins was 29 and pregnant with her fifth child when she had what she describes as “the worst headache ever.” Due to the pregnancy, she did not want to take anything. But when the headache would not go away one evening, she decided to go downstairs to get a pain reliever.
By the time she came back upstairs, she had lost her vision, and told her husband who was a physician that something was not right.