FRI, Jan 7, 2022 (American Heart Association News) — Kelly Vucic woke up one summer’s day ready to spend a quiet morning at home with her husband, Glenn. Their young child, Thomas, had just spent the night at their grandmother’s house.
She opted for comfortable pants, but when she tried to put them on, she swayed to the left. Then Kelly noticed a sharp pain in the back of her neck. I felt fog.
She entered the bathroom and splashed water on her face. You feel nauseous. The room started spinning. She looked at herself in the mirror, but her image was distorted.
“It reminded me of Van Gogh’s (Starry Night),” she said. “It was all whirlwinds.”
Her chest felt heavy as well. Kelly crawled back onto the bed and tried to scream for Glen. But her voice was weak and Glenn didn’t reply. he was not there. Went out to get a box of donuts.
“It felt like he was gone forever,” said Kelly, who lives in Houston. So I waited.
At the time, Kelly was thirty-two years old. She worked a high-stress job in financial risk management at a bank, smoked and weighed nearly 300 pounds. She did not exercise and her diet consisted of fast food and pasta.
When Glenn came home, she asked him to bring her some medicine and she stayed in bed for the rest of the day.
Kelly thought she had just had a severe headache or side effects from a procedure the week before to check her fallopian tubes after an ectopic pregnancy.
On Monday, as her neck pain worsened, she called patients to work. I made an appointment with the doctor first thing on Tuesday.
The doctor suspected an infection in the inner ear. Then he asked her to squeeze his hands and raise her head. You couldn’t do either of them well. Immediately ordered an MRI. Less than two hours later, Kelly learned she had a rare and large tear in her vertebral artery. She was transferred to the intensive care unit in the hospital across the street.
A neurologist explained that she had had a stroke, possibly two. The doctor said the rupture in her artery that led to her stroke was most likely from trauma to the neck. But Kelly did not remember hurting her neck.
Kelly’s father, who was in the hospital with her, called Glenn who left to pick up Thomas from nursery school. “Kelly had a stroke,” her father told Glen.
“This has not been treated,” Glenn said. “You just don’t think it would be something like that. You think,” strokes the elderly. “
At the hospital, Kelly’s left hand and leg were weak and her mouth muscles were cramping. She was scared. She asked Glenn to bring her a will.
After 10 days in intensive care, Kelly is starting to recover.
Physiotherapy helped her build her strength and improve her body. However, her mind was torn with fear. She was afraid she would further damage her ruptured artery and have another stroke. She didn’t want to talk about her experience.
“I felt very ashamed,” she said. “I thought I had brought the stroke on myself. I was so depressed, confused, angry, I was wondering why I survived, why it happened.”
A year later, a follow-up examination showed that the torn tissue had recovered.
With that issue resolved, Kelly’s doctor sat her down to discuss her next challenge.
He said she had to lower her body fat, get active, eat better, and get help with mental health. He asked her to start by putting only two minutes a day on the treadmill. Kelly reluctantly agreed.
She took off the clothes dangling from the machine in her bedroom and went upstairs. Those two minutes were a struggle. “But I kept focusing on that step before the next,” she said. “I knew I could always slow down. As long as I moved forward, I was winning.”
Kelly also adopted the Mediterranean diet. Between healthy eating and exercise, the weight decreased. I have lost over 70 lbs.
Slowly, I progressed from walking to running. Then she finally signed up for 5K. After that it was 10 kilos. Now she has run six half marathons. I also started lifting weights.
Her father encouraged her to open up about her story, and she did. She also quit her job. She is now a certified fitness trainer and health coach.
Three years after she had her stroke, Kelly found out she was pregnant. All went well for her and baby Lillian.
Fast forward eight years, and Kelly landed her dream job doing social media interactions for the company that owns her treadmill maker. I also co-hosted a survivor podcast with a friend who underwent a heart transplant.
Kelly is still grappling with the fear of having another stroke. “It’s always there,” she said. But she learned ways to cope, including meditation. She also feels empowered when she shares her story and encourages others to adopt a healthier lifestyle.
“It’s really a blessing to be alive and to try to help others,” she said. “I feel like I’m doing what I was supposed to do now, and I’m going to share my story until I can’t.”
American Heart Association news covers heart and brain health. Not all opinions expressed in this story reflect the official position of the American Heart Association. Copyright is owned or operated by the American Heart Association, Inc. , All rights reserved. If you have questions or comments about this story, please email email@example.com.
Written by Deborah Lynn Bloomberg
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Posted Jan 2022