At six weeks pregnant while visiting my mother on the east coast I suffered a stroke that came on while driving on the Interstate. Luckily this wasn't my first experience with having an odd takeover of my vision. I suffer from the occasional migraine with aura so when my vision started to get weird out of the blue I wondered if I was getting a new kind of migraine. I pulled over and my mom and I switched seats so she could drive. This is when things really got weird. I got out of the car to find myself totally off balance, seeing cross-eyed and then when I spoke the words that came out of my mouth were not what I was trying to say. It was a really fascinating experience. I felt no pain but spent about an hour and a half in a very internal space toggling between evaluating what was going on and simply experiencing the moment of living in my right brain as my left brain was freaking out. Needless to say, I was admitted to the hospital and many tests later it was discovered I suffered a stroke. More interestingly, it was discovered that I have a patent foramen ovale--a hole in my heart. We are all born with this hole as it is an efficiency function while we're in the womb. It closes upon birth in 75% of us. I am the one in four that it did not. I am also one of the very few who live in the gray area of wondering if the hole in my heart caused my stroke all believed to be caused by a clot formed due by the changes in blood chemistry of pregnancy. So, the theory goes: pregnancy formed a clot, the clot traveled through my heart, leaked through the hole and went straight to my brain where it dissipated causing the stroke. Wow! At six weeks pregnant I was worried about riding out the next 8 months but after being put on blood thinners and being watched carefully I safely delivered a perfect, healthy, hearty baby boy. He just turned 1 year old on November 2nd. Not only has pregnancy changed me physically--I am a very fit person who has never had any notable health issues and all of a sudden I have 2 big ticket items at age 34 in the blink of an eye--the hole in my heart and a history of stroke. It also changed me by opening my heart very early on--while my baby was still just a few little cells--to do whatever it takes to protect my child. I would do it all again to be able to have this little guy in my life. I am so grateful.
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