Lisa Marie Westbrook was getting ready for work one morning when she felt a “tingle” in her head. Initially she ignored it and continued to prepare to leave the house and get into the car, but within two minutes of that first sensation, Lisa Marie was unable to stand or use her arm. She pulled herself to the front door and called out for her young daughter who responded and noticed something was wrong. Her daughter dialed 9-1-1.
Lisa Marie doesn’t remember much for about three days. What she has since learned is the ambulance took her to the hospital where she was evaluated and it was confirmed that at just 40 years old, Lisa Marie had suffered a stroke. It was the quick response by her daughter and that important 9-1-1 call that initiated Lisa Marie’s treatment. The medical staff at the hospital determined she was within the treatment window to receive the “clot busting drug” tPA and they administered the medication.
The first thing Lisa Marie really remembers about the hospital is becoming aware that her right side didn’t work very well. She wasn’t able to talk, walk or use her arm. The next thing Lisa Marie thought about was her three young children and how she would be able to care for them. Lisa Marie resolved she needed to get better to care for her family.
Once stabilized, Lisa Marie was transferred to rehab where she was facing a challenging recovery. She needed to learn to walk and talk again. In addition, she needed to learn to deal with all of the emotions that came with learning you had suffered a stroke. She participated in in-patient rehab for a month where she made significant progress. Lisa Marie was then released home where she continued her physical and occupational therapy to regain more mobility and function.
The medical team suspects Lisa Marie’s stroke was caused by high blood pressure. She knew her readings were high, but without health insurance, Lisa Marie wasn’t able to get routine care or medication to manage her blood pressure numbers. She wants others to know how critical it is to learn your blood pressure numbers and take steps to maintain them within a healthy range.
Lisa Marie has also learned a lot about herself through this journey. She wants stroke survivors to know there is hope and you can recover. It is not an easy road and takes work, but she is a living example that recovery is possible. Lisa Marie wears a pin on her shirt every single day to remind her of her stroke journey. She shares her experience with local stroke groups and rehab centers to provide inspiration to patients. Lisa Marie also actively takes steps to support her own health. She enjoys walking at lunch every day with her daughter and takes medication to manage her blood pressure numbers.