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So I'm 29, and I've Had a Stroke

Updated on June 30, 2015

In the past, I have written a lot of person hubs, but I think this one might take the cake. I don’t write it because I want sympathy, because I don’t. I write it because I want people who have gone through what I have to know that they are not alone.

About six weeks ago, I was having a very, very, bad migraine. I get them every once in a while, but this one was definitely in the top three. I closed my black-out curtains in my room, and tried to go to sleep. About after an hour, I got up and went to check some texts. I was a bit dizzy, but I hadn’t taken any meds, and I don’t drink. I looked at my phone screen, and I couldn’t read. I could see the letters, saw that they were in groups, but I literally forgot how to read. I have a master’s degree in health psychology, but I was gobsmacked about what was going on. Things are much different when you are the one with the problem. I called one of my girlfriends to take me to the local Veteran’s hospital.

My friend and I waited about an hour, I spoke to the nurse for a bit and told her the issue, then I saw and spoke to the doctor for less than a minute. He just told me to go home because I was just having a migraine. He asked if I wanted any pain meds, I declined, so I left.

On the way home, I felt like something was seriously wrong. Being a former Marine, I am not a hypochondriac. We Marines know when to just suck it up, but I was having issues with reading; that’s not normal. So, my friend took me to my local civilian hospital, one that just happens to be the premier stroke center. I went to check-in and told the nurse what was wrong, she immediately took me back, and I saw a neurologist right away. While he was about to order some tests, I went to stand up to walk to the bathroom, but I immediately passed-out and hit my head on the IV stand. I felt incredibly stupid.

So, the doctor then ordered a MRI, which I received, and was then sent back to my room. I had been admitted into the hospital due me hitting my head pretty hard. An intern doctor came in, and he and I were joking around, but then he asked if anyone told me the results of the MRI, and I said that no one had. You could see the poor guy frowning and trying to back out of the room slowly, but I told him not to leave me hanging. He said the neurologist would talk to me, but that there was a brain lesion and that it could be a tumor or I might have had a stroke.

It was over two hours before the neurologist came in. My friend had to leave to pick up her kids, and the room I was in had no reception, and I was tied up to an IV, so I couldn’t leave the hospital to make a call. There was only reality tv on. For two hours I was just thinking I might not ever see my daughter graduate college, get married, have children, and the only thing to distract me was Kim Kardashian, lol.

The doctor came in and told me that I had a stroke. This was probably the first time someone was happy that they had a stroke, because tumor v. stoke, I would take the stroke anyday. The weird thing he said was the stroke was not recent. He asked if I ever had any head trauma, and I said yes, when I was in Iraq after my truck hit an improvised explosive device. I told him that before I left for Iraq, I had been in a car accident, a drunk hit my Jeep. I was given an MRI at the hospital and given a clean bill of health. That means I had the stroke after the car accident, but not too far after that, which would be when I was in Iraq. When I was medivaced out of Iraq, I had internal bleeding, so no one really focused on my Traumatic Brain Injury which I was diagnosed with about two years post-Iraq. I just blamed all my migraines and other issues on that.

However, looking back, it was obvious I had a stroke. About three or four months after Iraq, I was talking to my Staff Sergeant. He asked me a question and I said “No, Staff Sergeant”. He told me to say “Sergeant” again, and I did. He kept telling to repeat the word. He then instructed me to ask my doctor if any of the meds I was taking would affect my speech because I was slurring my words, which in all honesty, I didn’t. Marines don’t like going back to the doctor, because then we are labeled “sick call commandos”. So that was my bust.

The last hint I had was my face. I had a few surgeries right after Iraq, with two being to my face. The right side of my face, specifically my right eye area, had some damage. I had plastic surgery to my eye lids, but the first one left really bad scars, so they repeated it about a year or so later. My doctor at the time mentioned that my right eyelid was drooping, but he said it could just be nerve damage from the IED, and that the surgery would fix it, which thankfully it did.

You can’t tell now that I had any damage, but I should have realized that once again it was symptomatic of the stroke. To be fair, at that time I did not have the education which I do now, I received my education post-Marine Corps. I have attached a picture below of me after the last surgery to my face. The surgeons had to do both eyes to ensure that they were even. The surgery wasn't because I wanted plastic surgery, but to fix the scarring form the IED, and to fix the droop.

The point of this hub is that if you think that you are having weird symptoms, to really study what the issue might be and to advocate for yourself. Seek second opinions if you think that you aren’t receiving adequate care, and to not dismiss conditions such as a stroke, even if you are young.

For me, my prognosis is great, and I haven’t had any more issues with not being able to read, and haven’t even had a headache since I was in the hospital. I just have to get another MRI every so often to make sure everything remains kosher. Other than that, I am back to my old self and getting read to run my 9th marathon.

The picture is me after my second surgery. You can see I am obviously very happy. In truth, the surgeons did a great job, and I am very thankful. This surgery was actually a long time ago.


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    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 

      3 years ago from Philippines

      I'm very glad you survived the stroke at such a young age. You are a very beautiful woman, both inside and out. You are also very brave.

    • Alli Rose profile imageAUTHOR

      Alli Rose Smith 

      3 years ago from Washington, DC

      Tirelesstraveler, thanks for your post. You are right, never take symptoms of major conditions lightly, dead is dead.

    • Alli Rose profile imageAUTHOR

      Alli Rose Smith 

      3 years ago from Washington, DC

      Hi Ed, thanks for your post. Yeah, I wasn't too enthralled with the VA after that. Last week, I had to follow up with my primary care at the VA and I told my doctor what had happened so he put it in the notes that if I go back to the VA emergency room to take it seriously. Everything is fine now. Thanks for your post, ooh rah!

    • Alli Rose profile imageAUTHOR

      Alli Rose Smith 

      3 years ago from Washington, DC

      Dana, I appreciate it, thank you for your post

    • Alli Rose profile imageAUTHOR

      Alli Rose Smith 

      3 years ago from Washington, DC

      Dale, that really is nice of you to say, thank you, and thank you for your post!

    • Alli Rose profile imageAUTHOR

      Alli Rose Smith 

      3 years ago from Washington, DC

      Pollyanna, Thank you for your post, you are right. On the way home, I felt kind of melodramatic seeking second opinion, but I knew that there was something and it wasn't a headache. Its scary looking at words, and not knowing what it says. But from now on, I will definitely be more of an advocate for myself. Thanks!

    • Alli Rose profile imageAUTHOR

      Alli Rose Smith 

      3 years ago from Washington, DC

      Larry, thank you for your post. You are right, I am hearing about a lot of young people who are experiencing strokes at younger and younger ages. I would be interested to learn if the medical community discovers why. Thanks!

    • Alli Rose profile imageAUTHOR

      Alli Rose Smith 

      3 years ago from Washington, DC

      Loreli, wow that's recent. I'm glad that he bounced back so quickly. Thank you for your post. Yeah, I have to take an asprin from here on out. When I asked my doctor how long I needed to take asprin for, he replied 50 years or so.

    • Alli Rose profile imageAUTHOR

      Alli Rose Smith 

      3 years ago from Washington, DC

      Randall, I am so sorry that you went through that. Even though it has been bit since your last stroke, I hope that the effect of the stroke dissipates. Btw, my mom lives about 15 minutes away in Clearwater. Thank you for your response.

    • Alli Rose profile imageAUTHOR

      Alli Rose Smith 

      3 years ago from Washington, DC

      LambServant- That's so scary, I am so glad for you that you are doing well and have no lasting effects of the stroke.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 

      3 years ago from California

      Very glad the out come was positive. It takes guts to share unflattering pictures, but you seem like a very gutsy lady.

      The warning to all; you are never too young for serious medical issues.

    • Edward J. Palumbo profile image

      Ed Palumbo 

      3 years ago from Tualatin, OR

      I'm glad you followed up with a civilian hospital and an MRI; that could have gone very badly if that untreated. I'm disappointed it was misdiagnosed at the VA. Remain attentive to every message your body gives you, because the quality of your life may depend on it. God bless and Semper Fi,


    • Dana Tate profile image

      Dana Tate 

      3 years ago from LOS ANGELES

      Thank you for sharing your story, not to mention, serving our country. I am sorry to hear about all the things you went through, but I praise the Lord that you are okay. Blessings.

    • Inspired to write profile image

      Dale J Ovenstone 

      3 years ago from Wales UK

      Thank you for sharing your experience and letting anyone else know about the warning signs of stroke, and for gaining second opinions when you just know something is not right. You are a proud fighter, born to succeed, and write more hubs

      Regards, Dale

    • Pollyanna Jones profile image

      Pollyanna Jones 

      3 years ago from United Kingdom

      I'm glad you're still here to tell the tale. When we're in our twenties, it's easy to think these things are just for later years - even the doctors can fall into this trap. Like you mention, always best to go back for a second opinion if you're not sure.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      3 years ago from Oklahoma

      Quite an ordeal. Thanks for writing this. For reasons not fully understood strokes are becoming more and more common in the young, and we need to raise awareness as much as possible.

    • Randall Guinn profile image

      Randall Guinn 

      3 years ago from Pinellas Park, Florida

      When I had an MRI, they told me the same thing Loreli, that I had had a previous stroke. My neurologist said that it shows up as a shadow on the MRI. I realized then when it had occurred. The second time, my right arm became noticeably weaker, but I had use of it. I hope that your husband recovers completely, and never has this problem again. Alli is so young to experience this, even if it was the result of an accident.

    • Lorelei Cohen profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 

      3 years ago from Canada

      My husband suffered a stroke about 10 days ago. The symptoms were so typical that we both knew immediately what it was. He could not move his left arm or leg and had extremely slurred speech. Luckily he came out of it in about 15 minutes and is now almost completely back to normal. On medication of course to help prevent this from happening again. When they did the cat scan they discovered that he had also had a previous stroke which we were completely unaware of.

    • Randall Guinn profile image

      Randall Guinn 

      3 years ago from Pinellas Park, Florida

      I'm sorry to hear this Alli. I had a stroke seven years ago, and then another a few years ago. After the first stroke, it took me three months before I could walk right. My doctors told me that I would soon fully recover, but that wasn't the case, and other folks I know that experienced a stroke say the same thing. Sometimes I think that I see something that isn't there when I turn my head quickly. A friend of mine who suffered a stroke has the same problem. I also problems that feel like vertigo, and have ringing in my ears, which becomes very noticeable at night, when I try to sleep.

      I hope that you get control over your life soon, and that this becomes nothing more than a footnote in your life. You're still very young.

      Take care,


    • lambservant profile image

      Lori Colbo 

      3 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      I'm sorry Alli I for all you've had to go through! My goodness! Thank you for serving our country and helping in Iraq!

      I had a TIA on May 24th! No residual effects, but like you, I had a moment wondering if this might be my time! Because TIA's happen so quickly (mine was about 2-3hours) they couldn't pinpoint the stroke! They didn't do the MRI until 2 days later and it showed nothing! But I was diagnosed by symptoms!

      I had been at church and began to feel faint and short of breath and suddenly groggy! I had a similar episode a few days prior but this was worse and symptoms weren't all the same! I had to work in a couple hours so I didn't go home, I drove a half mile to the store and got a snack thinking it might help! Then I thought I'd take a nap in my car as I was very groggy! I started to drift off but I had a bad feeling! I drove across the driveway to urgent care! My BP plunged! Then something changed and it was hard to talk! My left side got weak and I couldn't move that side! Don't remember much once I was in the ambulance! I was out most of the time or could not respond when I became briefly aware of what was going on! They later told me that it's not uncommon in the case of TIA's to not see anything on the tests because it happens so fast and the tests don't catch it unless, like in your case, there was some lesion on the MRI!

      I'm glad we're both okay!

    • Alli Rose profile imageAUTHOR

      Alli Rose Smith 

      3 years ago from Washington, DC

      JG- That really stinks, I wish him the best of luck. I guess a lot would depend on his pain, rank, and so many other factors. I hope his command is understanding while he makes his decision.

      Say Yes to Life- I am glad your brother's mother came out okay. I am fortunate I don't have any weakness in my legs or arms or anything.

    • Say Yes To Life profile image

      Yoleen Lucas 

      3 years ago from Big Island of Hawaii

      I'm glad you survived intact! Strokes can be devastating. If caught in time, though, one can survive it with barely any damage. My brother's mother in law suffered a hemorrhagic stroke, but since it was caught in time, the only difference is that her left side was slightly weak, and she had to walk with a cane.

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Thank You. I have a relative in the Marines. His tours in the Middle East resulted in lower leg issues. He has a choice. Cut off his legs below the knees and install mechanical replacements - and re-up in the Marines or let his time expire and go out with bum legs - and never run again. He can still walk now - with a limp. He hasn't made the choice yet.


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