courtesy Kristin Bedinghaus
Kristin Bedinghaus, 35, is a mom of two sets of twins who lives in St. Petersburg, FL. She shared her story exclusively with FirstforWomen.com If you want to know more about the causes and risk factors for strokes, go to the American Stroke Association.
The morning I had my stroke, I was getting my four kids ready for a play date in the park with a bunch of friends. My oldest set of twins, Ross and Ivey, were 2; Jett and Jude were only 2 months old. Before we left the house, I realized I’d forgotten something for Ivey, so I went rushing up the stairs. Suddenly, I felt a force pulling me down on my left side. I almost lost my balance.
As I came down the stairs, I had to clutch the railing. Then I blacked out. When I came to, I was on the floor near our sofa, which is about 15 feet away from the stairs. I threw up, then looked up to see a blurry image of Ross and Ivey peering down at me as they sat on the couch. The babies were nearby, strapped into their feeding chairs.
I remembered my phone was in my back pocket so I pressed redial to call my husband, Elliott, at work. I didn't know what to tell him except that something was wrong and I needed help. He called my mother, who was closer, to come over right away. We went to the hospital as soon as she got to the house.
At the ER, the doctors told me I’d survived a stroke. The news came completely out of the blue. There was no history of stroke in my family. My blood pressure and my overall health were fine. I was shocked to find out I could even have a stroke at 31. Later I learned that one in three strokes brought on by blood clots have no known underlying cause. They’re known as cryptogenic strokes, and I’d had one.
For the first few days, the doctors kept me in the neurological ICU. While I was lying in bed, I experienced weakness in my left arm, but I couldn't really tell what was going on with my legs. Then I was transferred to the neurological ward. The doctors warned me I might have a similar weakness in my legs, but nothing prepared me for the moment when they wanted me to get out of bed. I had such little feeling in my left leg that I fell down immediately. I realized with horror I couldn’t stand on my own.