A 28-year-old healthy Florida mom talks about having a stroke

When you think of someone having a stroke, you don’t necessarily envision a 28-year-old woman. Especially a healthy one who exercises, gets regular checkups and eats well.

While suffering a stroke in the prime of your life is indeed rare, Jacksonville resident Alyssa Duane defied the odds last July.

The married mother of a toddler spoke to Jacksonville.com almost a year after her ordeal in honor of May, National Stroke Awareness Month. Stroke is the fifth-leading cause of death in the United States and a leading cause of long-term disability for adults, reports the American Heart Association.

Last July, Duane was in her kitchen getting ready to drop off her 10-month-old daughter Maggie with a relative and head to work.

Suddenly, Duane could barely move or speak She fell to the ground, bumping her head, reports the AHA. She was unable to move or speak.

Fortunately, Duane had her phone in her hands. When her husband Kevin had been alerted she hadn’t shown up for work or dropped off their child, he called.

Alyssa was able to swipe open the call and moan into the phone, with her baby by her side. Duane called 911 and raced home; paramedics had already bust down the door.

After doctors diagnosed her of having an ischemic stroke (when the flow of blood to the brain is blocked), the young couple was shocked. Alyssa had no family history of strokes and she was in good shape and ate healthy.

“I fell into the trap thinking that these things happened to other people but not to me,” Kevin told Jacksonville.com. “Make sure you have an emergency fund. Get disability insurance. Prepare yourselves for something like this, so you’re not unprepared if the time comes.”

As for Alyssa, she thought her flu-like symptoms leading up to the stroke (a headache and nausea) would have been more severe.

“It was not the worst headache,” said Alyssa, who has since gone through months of rigorous physical therapy, which continues to this day. Her long-term goal is to run again, a workout she enjoyed before becoming ill.

“I just want to get back to normal, as normal as things can be now,” said the now 29-year-old, who returned to work as a pharmacist at CVS on Monday.

For more information on strokes, click here

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