Life AFTER Stroke Survival: A Young Woman's Perspective

Written by: Jenny with Madeline Mudd

When sheKC partnered with the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, I knew we'd be able to share valuable, potentially life-saving information and stories of inspiration from survivors. I never expected to be so completely touched by one story in particular.

A few weeks ago, we blogged about four Kansas City teenagers. Each of them had a stroke and survived.

Teenager. Stroke.

Those words just don't go together.

I received an email from the mother of one of the girls, Madeline Mudd, shortly after we posted the story. She wanted to let me know that while yes, her daughter did indeed survive a stroke - the story didn't just wrap up like a nice tidy package.

There are still struggles. Life is not the same. 

In fact, life is pretty hard some days.

Madeline had just finished practicing with her synchronized skating team the summer of 2013, when everything she knew and loved changed forever. Without warning, she collapsed on the ice. A blood vessel in her brain had ruptured, causing a stroke. Despite weeks in ICU and rehabilitation, she returned to the ice to skate with her team.

In Madeline's own words... here's a peek into her life three years later.

I am grateful for this perspective and thankful for her contribution to sheKC. I think it's important for people to learn the 'real' story behind lots of situations. 

Example -- my sister lost her husband in a tragic car accident a few years ago. Initially, everyone was there. Everyone offered to help. People did help! But, eventually, people went about their own lives and the family who had just suffered a tremendous loss, lost again because people disappeared. 

Now, I imagine going through something like a stroke. As a teenager. In high school. Hard years without something so life altering.

I can feel her frustration in her post below. It honestly breaks my heart.

But, I can also feel her determination.

We truly wish you the best, Madeline.

When I graduated from Park Hill High School, I had what I felt was a fairly normal amount of anxiety for the average recent high school grad. I thought that I understood anxiety, but boy was I wrong. I have always had odd little OCD quirks for as long as I can remember; I always had to do things an even number of times and I was a perfectionist, but they were more of annoyances to my friends and family. 

The Craniectomy that helped saved my life left a nasty ear-to-ear scar on my head and when I began to see the uneven and wiry hair growing around it, it caused the perfectionist in me to start pulling it out. I thought, 'well, if I pull these nasty things out, they won't grow back that way, right?'. Wrong. All kinds of WRONG.

The more and more I looked, the more and more hair I found, and yep I pulled every one of them, and the obsession began. This is called Trichotillomania. This is my OCD raging in the form of Trichotillomania (trick-o-till-o-may-nee-uh), TTM or 'Trich', also known as Hair Pulling Disorder.

Trich rules my stroke recovery now because my urge to pull is 24/7 and it interferes with EVERYTHING. In addition, the stroke caused attention deficit problems and that keeps me from getting anything done.

I’m taking one class at a community college and it is hard because I still don’t remember a darn thing and then when I get home to try to study, I get anxious because I can’t remember anything that happened in class. It's an endless cycle. 

Even though I know I’m one of the lucky ones, my life still sucks.  I am jealous of all my 'friends' out in college having fun, being in sororities. Having boyfriends and going out on dates. While I’m over here hiding out in my bedroom or bathroom pulling every single flipping hair that I possibly can out of my head. 

After stroke my 'friends' walked away when it was no longer cool to go 'visit Mads after rehab' and make a cute Instagram post about how awesome she is and how she is a survivor and how they are so 'lucky' or 'blessed' to know me.

So, where am I now in stroke recovery? 

Well, let me tell you, those girls are so far in my rear view mirror I can no longer see them. But, you know what, I survived that which was supposed to kill me. And my life has so much more meaning than those mean girls from high school. 

Stroke won't stop me.

Memory won't stop me.

OCD and Trich won't stop me.

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