Healthy Woman Is Left Paralyzed Down One Side
It’s common knowledge that a stroke is an ailment that heavily affects the elderly portion of the population. However, what most people do not know is that the number of people younger than 45 years old who experience a stroke has been rising steadily over the past few years. Strokes affect more of the younger generation than many realize, as most who fit this age group brush aside symptoms and firmly believe that their age alone ensures protection from stroke. This widely shared belief has, unfortunately, proven harmful to one otherwise healthy woman, who was left paralyzed down one side of her body at the age of 20 years old.
Elizabeth Ashmore, a young college student from Kent, was the picture of health. A very dedicated Zumba attendee, Ashmore never smoked or pursued any other activity that would have put her health at risk. She happily balanced her studies in graphic design and a job working as a sales assistant at a clothing store nearby. One day, however, her entire way of life took a shocking turn.
On what she presumed was a typical Sunday evening, Ashmore suddenly began to suffer from a terrible headache that she simply “couldn’t get rid of” (Hodgekiss). She also claims to have been shaking uncontrollably and unable to stand up on her own. The left side of her body, including her left arm and leg, were entirely paralyzed down, and she noticed her mouth drooping. Her family immediately rushed her to the hospital in hopes of figuring out what was happening to Ashmore.
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Doctors who had seen the college student a month before the episode when she had gone to the emergency room with a strange numbness in her arm never took into consideration that her symptoms could be part of a larger problem. They quickly told her she only had a “trapped nerve” (Hodgekiss) and sent her home. Her young age prevented physicians from foreseeing what would come in Ashmore’s life only a few weeks later – a stroke.
On her second visit to the hospital, she was examined more closely. She found she could no longer tell the time on a clock, or even move her body apart from being able to give a thumbs up sign to visitors. This time around, doctors were able to better consider her symptoms and came to the conclusion that Ashmore, at only 20 years of age, had suffered a stroke.
In Elizabeth Ashmore’s case, the cause of the stroke was believed to be due to nephritic syndrome, a kidney condition that led to blood clotting. This prevented blood from flowing to and from her brain, which cut off communications between her brain and the left side of her body. Many times, though, it is never discovered exactly why one has a stroke. There are several risk factors that can lead to a higher chance of stroke, including “high blood pressure, smoking and high cholesterol” (Liebeskind), but doctors are unable to tell precisely who will and will not suffer from a stroke.
Ashmore now strives to raise awareness of the risk of stroke in young adults. She aims to show that brushing off symptoms due to age can have harmful results, as shown in her own experience; because she was unable to properly have her condition diagnosed in time, she now relies on a cane and a wheelchair to live her life as normally as possible. She has found a new purpose in life after what has happened to her, and though she’s working on making her life as great as it was before her stroke, she now knows how quickly life can change and to not take the simpler things, like being able to use both hands and legs, for granted.