July 9 is Robert Pritchard’s Stroke-aversary. Robert was a new college graduate and only 22 years old. He had no prior health issues until a Cerebral Venous Sinus Thrombosis caused a blood clot in his brain and changed his life forever. It was a normal Monday evening for Robert, who was at home in Georgia for the summer after recently graduating from UCF. With plans to begin graduate school in the fall, Robert and his cousin, Chris, decided to go out in downtown Atlanta that evening to escape the summer boredom.
During the day, Robert felt completely normal. Later that evening, however, he started to feel a little strange. It began with a weird pain on the lower left side of his back. Then he started having trouble speaking and getting his words out. Robert shrugged it off as nothing serious and the boys headed downtown, eager for a fun night out. While driving, it became difficult for Robert to keep the car straight in the lane. While pulled over at a gas station, he fell out of his car and lay flat on the pavement after attempting to step out, but found that he could not. Somehow, he was able to pick himself up and get back into his car.
Shrugging it off again, he tried walking, but felt like his left leg was dead. In order to remain upright, he had to lift and drag his leg on the way to the hotel room to meet their friend. Things only got worse at the hotel, when Robert had his first seizure. When the ambulance arrived, Robert was completely conscious and talking, forcing the first responders to think it was nothing serious. Once at the hospital, Robert had his second seizure while awaiting a CAT scan. At that point, Robert lost consciousness and does not recall much in the aftermath of the seizure. Over the next few days, Robert continued to have multiple seizures, resulting in difficulty speaking and paralysis of the left side of his body.
After a rigorous two months in the hospital, Robert was able to go home and continue outpatient rehabilitation, which consisted of physical, speech, and occupational therapy. This included learning how to walk and talk all over again.
After hearing of Robert’s plight, Deanna, the founder of SCSAF, reached out to Robert and his family to see how they could help. SCSAF was able to provide financial and emotional support to Robert’s mother so that he was able to receive the best care during his recovery. He continues with treatment five years later. Today, Robert recently started his first job and is walking, talking, and living independently.
As for the importance of creating stroke awareness in the community, Robert claims, “It's very important because it can happen to anybody at any time. I am living proof that it does not matter how young or healthy you are, it is possible that it can happen to you. Just by knowing the signs you can save yourself or others by having the knowledge.”
#defyingtheodds #storiesofstrokesuperheros #scsaf