Lisle resident Amanda Schauer, 24, was out to lunch with her mom, a friend and her fiancé when her left hand suddenly went numb. She thought maybe it was a migraine coming on. Then the sensation traveled up her spine, and she collapsed at the table.
|NEURO STORY: AMANDA SCHAUER
"In the movies when there's a dramatic scene, everything's in slow motion, and they're quieting things down," she says. "That's what it was like."
Her entire left side went numb, and her speech slurred. Diagnostic scans at Edward Hospital revealed she was having a stroke.
Edward's neurointerventional team recognized Schauer could die or become permanently disabled if they didn't remove the blood clot quickly.
Stroke in 24-year olds is uncommon. But doctors continue to see more young patients with diseases that are usually associated with the elderly population.
With Schauer under general anesthesia, the neurosciences team guided a thin wire - about the width of a human hair - and the corkscrew-like Merci device from an artery in her hip region up to the brain and past the clot to pull it out. The entire path was lit up by advanced 3-D imaging technology.
The best way for the majority of people to prevent a stroke is primary care surveillance: controlling blood pressure, weight and cholesterol, and not smoking. Some conditions are hereditary, so people with a family history of stroke should tell their doctors and consider advanced testing to determine their risk.
While Schauer was still at Edward, her doctors discovered a heart condition that likely caused her stroke. She has a patent foramen ovale, or PFO, a common birth defect. A PFO is a hole in the middle of the heart that can build up clots that eventually break off, and in Schauer's case, travel to the brain.
Schauer felt normal about 24 hours after the procedure. She hasn't needed physical or speech therapy, though she noticed she had trouble pronouncing certain words for about two weeks.
Her stroke hasn't slowed her down since. She is studying baking and pastry arts at College of DuPage while working as a restaurant pastry chef. She and her fiancé are taking a rock-climbing class and plan on riding roller coasters at Six Flags soon.