Lisa Deck - Stroke Survivor

Author: AmericanHeartFDA

- I was 21 years old, and I was going to American University in Washington, DC. I'd been sick for, like a day or two, where I had a severe headache, my left side was numb, and I knew something wasn't right. I woke up one morning, on May 7th, and it was 1997, and I knew I needed to go to the hospital. And when I walked into this hospital, there was a sign that said, "May is Stroke Awareness Month." And I noticed it and thought, "Hmm." When they told me that it was a stroke, I didn't really know what a stroke was. I thought that it was something that happened to old men, you know, I really thought that was something that would happen to my grandfather, not to me. I called my parents, who knew I was going to the hospital, were obviously worried, and the doctor got on the phone and told my mom I had a stroke. I can only imagine, now that I'm a mom, how shocking and scary that had to have been for her.

(gentle music) About four months after my first stroke, I had a lot of the same feelings, and I just took a cab to the hospital, and they admitted me because I had had a second stroke. I was diagnosed with central nervous system vasculitis, which is inflammation of the blood vessels in my brain. The treatment for the disease was very, very intense.

I gained 60, 70 pounds. I went into menopause. I lost most of my hair, I developed high blood pressure, high cholesterol, all of these things were just part of the treatment. At one point, they were tapering one of my medications, I had a third stroke. Being young was good because you're kind of naive, and you just fight. You don't know what else to do, you just fight. But I was scared, very scared because I didn't know if I was going to be okay.

I didn't know what this would mean for my future. I always thought that I would get married and have a family and have this great job. I was so sick at times, I thought, "Nobody's gonna "want to marry me," or "How's this gonna work?" September 11th, 2001 was the day that I had my MRI that declared me in remission. - Actually, our first date in Washington, DC was supposed to be September 11th, 2001, which obviously we didn't end up going on that date. We had some mutual friends who knew each other. So we were acquaintances in our 20's.

Lisa Deck - Stroke Survivor

I didn't really become aware of the seriousness of the situation till probably after she was in remission, till I heard about the full extent of the three strokes and central nervous system vasculitis, and all things that I had to educate myself about because, at such a young age, it's tough to conceive of someone dealing with so much and having to overcome so much. I know about her now, and I see her succeeding in everything she does. I'm not surprised that she overcame such a serious situation.

- When I was in remission, and I had been living back in Rhode Island, I decided I wanted to do something to celebrate being healthy. I was like, "I'm alive. I want to celebrate. "I wanna have a party," so I tried to figure out how to do that, and in researching that, I learned about the Train to End Stroke marathon program, which is now Tedy's Team.

I raised over $14,000 for the team. Maybe six months after my remission, I walked a half marathon, which is something I didn't know if I would ever do. One of my favorite things I did was create the Survivor Luncheon, which is a part of the National Lobby Day for the Heart Association, and I think that's when I first learned about Go Red, and I learned about how this movement was talking about women and keeping women healthy. Women often forget to take care of themselves. Mothers, sisters, daughters, caregivers, working moms, stay-at-home moms, we're all busy, and we're all doing a million things, and I think we often just forget to pay attention to your body and take care of your body. I have friends who tell me they have a headache, and I'll say, "Now how bad is your headache?" And they kind of laugh, but I know what can happen.

I know the sudden symptoms of things ^ that can happen, and you need to take action. ^ I look at my life today, and I'm very ^ fortunate for the life I have. ^ I have an awesome husband, I have two fantastic, crazy kids, I'm just lucky I'm here. And I want to be here, and I want to be doing the right thing so that I'm here even longer. I think Go Red For Women is important because it's spreading the word that heart disease and stroke do happen to women. I think people forget that, again, I thought it happened to my 80-year-old grandfather.

Not a 21-year-old girl who's in good shape. It speaks and remind the women to take care of themselves and to take care of their health. Because without your health, you don't have anything.

Lisa Deck - Stroke Survivor

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