Stroke affects approximately 780,000 people in the United States each year and is the leading cause of adult disability in the nation. Angela Whitesell, 44, of Staunton, however, refused to become one of these statistics.
A lawyer by trade, Angela Whitesell relies upon clear thought and intellect on a daily basis. While on vacation with her husband, however, a tiny blood clot put her career and her life at risk.
"My husband and I were in Atlanta on a short trip," Angela says. "I was heading to bed around 12:30 a.m. when I felt my arm and le go to sleep, and then I was paralyzed on my right side."
After seeking help, Angela was told her symptoms were most likely migraine-related and that she should visit a physician when she returned home. On the trip home, however, another incident sent Angela to an emergency room in South Carolina.
"We stopped for dinner in South Carolina on our way back to Staunton," Angela adds. "While we were eating, I began to feel numbness in my arms and legs again but thought I was being hyper-vigilant. I wasn't really told what to watch for."
Angela woke up later that night and realized she needed help to get out of bed. At 4 a.m., however Angela was able to walk herself into a hospital. After reaching the hospital, Angela discovered that a clot had been periodically blocking blood flow to her brain. When she made it to the hospital, the clot had completely blocked blood flow to her brain, and she was admitted. Following a four-day stay in South Carolina, Angela was transported nearly six and a half hours to Augusta Health.
Knowing Where to Turn
Angela spent the next three weeks in the rehabilitation unit at Augusta Health. During rehabilitation, Angela underwent physical, occupational, and recreational therapy intended to prepare her for a return to normal daily life.
"The day my physical therapy started, my therapist told me I was going to walk," Angela explains. "I didn't believe her because I could barely move my leg. Through the encouragement of the staff and with some assistance, however, I was walking again. It was a great feeling."
With the help of regular therapy sessions, Angela, who arrived at Augusta Health in a wheelchair, was able to leave using a quad-cane. Angela continued outpatient physical therapy and persisted in making dramatic improvements.
The Road to Recovery
Following her stroke and rehabilitation, Angela is now back to working 30-hour weeks and has made great strides in her recovery efforts.
"I drive myself everywhere now," Angela says. "Although I still have some difficulty, the fact that I can drive and work again is a tremendous accomplishment. I am extremely grateful for the staff at Augusta Health for their continual encouragement and support."