AHA News: At 27, she collapsed in the shower following a stroke | Health Info
By American Heart Association News, Health Day reporter
WEDNESDAY, June 16, 2021 (American Heart Association News) – Veronica Cardello jumped in the shower on a Tuesday morning, her thoughts drifting to the full list of meetings waiting for her at work. Picking up her shampoo bottle, she slipped through his fingers.
“Every time I went to get it, I just dropped it,” said Veronica, who works as an advocate for real estate agents. “I remember blinking my eyes and thinking, ‘Maybe I’m just tired.'”
Then she collapsed, falling face-forward onto the edge of the tub. She fainted. When she came to herself, she couldn’t feel her right side. A huge bruise had already formed on his abdomen. Veronica crawled out of the tub. Grabbing the sink, she grabbed the doorknob, only to fall back, banging her head on the edge of the tub.
“I started to cry,” she said. “I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t stand up, I couldn’t speak. That’s when I was more than afraid for my life.”
Veronica was 27 years old. She was living in her childhood home in Forestville, PA with her parents and three younger siblings while her home was being renovated. As time passed that morning, her father, John, found it strange that she hadn’t left for work yet.
When he went up to see her, the door was closed. He didn’t get a response when he knocked, so he shouted, “Nica! Nica! It’s okay ?
Veronica, still in the bathroom, “kept moaning because there was nothing else I could do.”
John named his other daughters, Kimberly and Nicole. They helped get Veronica from the bathroom to the bedroom.
As they dressed Veronica, she regained her ability to speak. She said she didn’t want to go to the hospital.
But John was worried about his daughter’s jerky manner. He noticed that the right side of his face was sagging. He knew these were symptoms of stroke. “There is no if, and or but about it, you are going to the hospital to be examined,” he told her.
At the hospital, an x-ray and a CT scan both returned to normal. Veronica was weak, but she could move around with help. She spoke more clearly. Abnormal results on a urine test led to a diagnosis of bacterial infection. She was sent home.
“I left the hospital thinking it was just a freak accident,” Veronica said.
Two days later, she still felt numbness in her right arm and leg. She was having trouble finding the right words while speaking. His attending physician ordered an MRI.
The next day her doctor called and said, “I need you to sit down now. You have all the symptoms of a stroke.
But what caused it? Over the next eight months, doctors struggled to figure it out.
“Test after test, I proved I was ‘normal’,” she said, “until a doctor had the courage to take a closer look.”
An ultrasound of his heart solved the mystery. Veronica was born with a gap between the upper chambers of her heart. This is called interatrial communication.
“Until they diagnosed me, I thought I was dying,” Veronica said.
Doctors said the hole could lead to another stroke; it had to be surgically closed. A doctor in Virginia ended up sewing her heart. She then spent weeks recovering, cared for by her parents and siblings.
“I couldn’t lift anything over 10 pounds,” Veronica said.
Veronica’s stroke occurred in June 2019. Her heart surgery took place in October 2020.
Since then, she has devoted herself to a healthy lifestyle. She follows a Mediterranean diet, runs and lifts weights.
The stroke left her with occasional difficulty recovering words. It also becomes stiff and sore when sitting for a long time.
Veronica has become active with the American Heart Association and enjoys educating others, especially young people, about strokes.
“Don’t doubt it could happen to you,” she said. “This is absolutely one of the biggest pieces of advice I would have given myself two years ago.”
She urges other survivors to stay strong.
“It’s very scary to go through,” she said, “but you can get over it.”
American Heart Association News covers heart and brain health. Any opinions expressed in this story do not reflect the official position of the American Heart Association. Copyright is owned or owned by the American Heart Association, Inc., and all rights are reserved. If you have any questions or comments on this story, please email [email protected]
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