Always believe when something doesn't feel right as "...life can change in a second"

Battling medical issues since birth, Meredith Harper and her family knew of general health
risks, but always believed strokes to only impact the elderly population. 

Meredith was a pre-med student who had completed an internship and given presentations on heart and stroke health.  She has always had a gift for helping and caring for others, and even wrote a short book for stroke survivors which included information and exercises for recovery.  

At the shocking age of 22, Meredith experienced her first stroke.  She had been in the emergency room four times prior to this day with Transient Ischemic Attacks (TIA), but the medical professionals dismissed further concern due to her young age.  Her first stroke was brought on by a clot after experiencing arrhythmia.  Meredith experienced this stroke while she was home from college on Christmas Break; fortunately she was with family who knew what was happening and brought her to the hospital immediately.  Meredith reported feeling as if her head was swollen prior to this, and was unable to speak when the stroke occurred.  She had major weakness on the right side of her body, and displayed drooping in her face.  

Due to the significant impact the stroke had on her, Meredith's "life changed drastically."  For the second time in her life, Meredith had to learn how to read, write, walk and talk again.  She was no longer the athlete she had poured much of her time and energy into during previous years of her life.  Some of her friends and family members even had difficulty handling the ways in which the stroke changed Meredith's life.  According to her mother, who became her main caregiver, Meredith faced this incident as she had with other challenges in her life: she didn't let it hold her back.  Her mother remembers, "she was determined to get better as fast as possible."  She had new limits to accept, but Meredith was able to defy the odds and went back to school to graduate just two years later!  

Decision making and task completion often took her longer than they used to, and she was unable to return to some of her favourite activities, but her positivity and determination pushed her along the path of recovery.  She was overseen by a stroke team following the incident, and knew to be mindful of any changes in her body which didn't seem right.  Family members were Meredith's best advocates, and they stress the importance of pushing doctors and other medical staff by asking questions to become as knowledgeable as possible.  They recall how difficult it was to obtain information related to stroke in young individuals, and reflect on how lives can be saved by spreading awareness.  

The best advice Meredith and her family pass along to others is to always believe when something doesn't feel right, and to never take anything for granted, as they have learned firsthand "...life can change in a second."


Picture credit: Paul Olsen 
Story source: http://youngstroke.org/
Always believe when something doesn't feel right as "...life can change in a second" Reviewed by Sarah Belson on Thursday, October 26, 2017 Rating: 5

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