There are moments in my life that make me wish I was a better writer. You know the moments I’m talking about- first day of high school, the day your heart is broken for the first time, marriage, the birth of your children and all their milestones, and, in my case, the day I had a stroke.
March 28th, it was Saturday. The weather was perfect. Weekends at our house usually mean some sort of outdoor activity and this day was no exception. We packed lunch – buckwheat waffle pb&j’s- and packed up for a bikeride. Since moving to Elk Grove bike rides have been few and far between. In weeks past, Octavian would sneak into the garage, climb into the bike trailer and put on his helmet. Though he says little, the kid knows how to make clear what he wants. We were happy to oblige.
The bike ride was not long, maybe an hour in total, but we managed to find a little piece of nature right in the middle of suburbia to take a little break. Octavian climbed up his first little hill and ate his first ladybug while playing in the dry grass. I felt great. On our way back home, we stopped at a less frequented park and ate our sandwiches. Octavian surprised us with a hearty appetite and happily chomped away. Sweet boy loves buckwheat waffles, especially when raspberry jam is sandwiched between.
Despite the great weather and yummy picnic lunch, we decided to head back home early so that we could visit Aaron’s grandmother in the hospital who had just had total knee replacement surgery. Octavian picked some flowers just outside the hospital and we had a short little visit. Baby boy slept on the way home and we got home just in time for dinner. Sadly, I can’t remember what we ate, but it was probably leftovers. I do, however, remember the mimosa that I had with dinner. Aaron and I made a last minute decision to go to a new park after dinner and (hopefully) wear the kid out.
We got home by 730pm and started preparations for bedtime. Aaron was scheduled to leave the next morning for a business trip and would be gone for a week. I took advantage of the extra hands while it lasted. I made some last minute attempts to get Octavian to eat or drink something and started to clean the kitchen. One of Octavian’s favorite places to play is the pantry and it’s always a game (or fight) to get him out. As I picked him up to move him out of the pantry, it started…
I heard a pop in my right ear. At the same moment the room started to spin so fast that it knocked me to my knees. I called out, “oh sh*t”. The room kept spinning and I started to feel painfully nauseous. I begged Aaron to make it stop. Aaron told me it’s probably vertigo, that he would look up a video on YouTube to help reverse it. He told me to go sit on the couch. The spinning continued, making it impossible to stand up, so I started to crawl. But, I couldn’t crawl either. Every time I would put weight on my right arm I would fall over and when I would try to lift my right leg to move forward, it felt weightless. I had no control of the right side of my body. I was confused, having no idea up from down, left or right. Despite all this, I still assumed at any moment it would just stop.
Seeing that I couldn’t crawl, and that Octavian thought Mommy was playing a silly game, Aaron came over and peeled Octavian off my back and sat me on the edge of the sofa. I couldn’t sit up. I couldn’t keep my neck and head up. My body and head kept flopping from side to side. Finally, I tried to speak. Getting words out was so labored and my speech so slurred that, at that moment, I knew what was happening. I looked at my husband and said, “I think I’m having a stroke, call 911“. I started crying.
The next two minutes were a blur. Aaron sat me on the floor and ran to the washer to put back on the dirty shirt he had just taken off. My husband picked up the diaper bag and Octavian with his right arm, and me with the other. Dragging us to the front of the house, I tried to help by unlocking the front door. All that I could manage was to flop my right hand against the door. I had no control over the right side of my body. I was useless. Outside, Aaron draped me over the car. I was able to stand on my left leg, but swayed left to right feeling like I was about to fall over. Octavian buckled safely in his carseat, Aaron sat me in the front seat and buckled me in. He raced us to the hospital.
The car ride was overwhelming. Everything was still spinning and at any moment I felt like I was going to vomit everywhere. Somewhere between the speech loss and the front door, I developed double vision. It was dark outside and I couldn’t really see anything except the blur of traffic lights. red. yellow. green. I couldn’t keep my head from flopping over, so I rested my left arm on the armrest and my head in my hand. Meanwhile, my sweet sweet terrified husband kept repeating “I love you. I love you. You’ll be ok“.
But I wasn’t thinking about me. All I could think about was my 16-month-old son and my husband. I am only 28-years-old. The thought of leaving them was unthinkable.
…Weeks later, I am Ok. But, I’ll have to share the rest of this story with you later (otherwise I may never get anything posted).
…all photos were taken just hours before I had the stroke. I felt fine.
I found your website while searching for a recipe and came across your story. I had a stroke when I was 36 and reading about your experience hit close to home. How scary. I’m so glad you are ok! Me too, thank goodness. Thanks for your site – I’m looking forward to trying some of your recipes!
Just came across your posted chicken recipes today and randomly came across your story here! My goodness! Can you please share if they were able to tell you why the stroke happened? Or at least yes or no, were there any factors that brought it on, or was it totally random? Since almost dying about 12 years ago, I developed a constant fear (like PTSD) of dying and being unaware something is wrong until it is too late. It makes me overly curious about all things health related and I am always wanting to hear what I can be aware of or careful about. I hope you aren’t offended by the questions! Also, thank you for posting recipes that don’t need to be browned or have longer prep. As a mom, you understand that sometimes, there just isn’t time! Thank again!
Jessica Randhawa says
Great question, Jenn.
No, my neurologist was never able to pinpoint any single smoking gun per se. The best hypothesis is that my hormones were all over the place, as I had just weaned my son recently, and my anxiety was quite high, having just moved to a new city. Also earlier in the day I was playing with my son rolling around on the carpet and I landed on my neck a bit awkwardly but didn’t think much of it at the time.
Unfortunately, I never got around to writing Part II to this, as I found it a very difficult topic to write about. I started it and it is still sitting in my drafts almost 5 years later.
Hello there oh my you’re amazing my father had a stroke oh boy so scary for all involved 💙💗✨wish you all the very best in all that you love doing 😉also with tot &husband thank you s sincerely su Oox
Jessica Randhawa says
Thanks for the kind words Sue 🙂 . Yes, we are doing well, although the thought of another random stroke definitely hunts me constantly.
Lauren K says
Reading this made me hold back tears that are all too familiar with my dad having a stroke. I’m so sorry you went through this. I think as I get older I realize how fragile life is, how every second counts and how being "young" means nothing anymore. We have to take care of ourselves and cherish our moments as best we can because youth is no longer a factor in saying "this can’t happen to me." Very happy that you are, what a scary situation to be in. I’m wishing you strength and love and positive energy for the future.
Bridget B says
I can’t even express how happy I am that you are alright, Jessica. Having heard of your stroke, knowing how young you are, really made me appreciate all that I DO HAVE that I honestly take for granted everyday; Still having both my parents, having an amazing fiancée who has given me a second shot at happiness and having a family, loyal friends, MY HEALTH to name a few. I’m so proud of you , Jess! The way you have handled this horrific event shows how strong you are and I’m honestly in awe of your bravery and ability to move on and continue being the amazing mom and woman you are. The world is a magical place because you are in it and although it’s been years since I’ve seen you and your siblings I think of you guys all the time and wish nothing but great things for you all. Love you guys! And how about we all stop talking about a reunion and get it it already?!!??? Xoxoxo
Diane Thackery says
Jess, Your story is so full of love and bravery. Love you sweet girl, Diane
Jeff Bailey says
Very nice sweetheart, even though the content is scary, I really get the essence of your fear. These are such wonderful pictures. Love ya….
Creeped Out Netizen says
Came here for a Bok Choy recipe, saw a hyperlink to this incredible and unfortunate story from 5-6 years ago, then saw this message from a “Jeff Bailey.”
“Very nice sweetheart…”
“..even though the content is scary…”
“..I really get the essence of your fear.”
This is f’n CREEPY, WTF man. I’m gonna bookmark this page just in case I come across some random “Unsolved Mysteries” episode or other crime series where the name “Jeff Bailey” is inextricably linked as a primary suspect.
F’n weird man.
Jessica Randhawa says
haha Jeff Bailey would be my dad 🙂 . I understand how the comment can seem odd not knowing that.
Sadly, he passed away from covid last year, catching it in December of 2020 before vaccines were available 🙁
So crazy! I’m glad you are ok! I’m curious if the stroke was caused by anything or spontaneous? I know that may be too personal.