In the Blink of an Eye

It happened on September 10, 2019, when Kelsey Wilson was just 28 years old.

She remembers the day clearly.

She was going to have a shower and all of a sudden she couldn’t see out of her eye. She was concerned, but didn’t want to panic. She thought it might just be high pressure in her eye, so she tried to continue on with her day and hoped that her vision would return. When Kelsey finally realized something was seriously wrong and decided to call for help, she was so confused, she forgot how to use her cell phone.

She finally figured out how to call her mom, and she rushed over to bring her to the Misericordia Community Hospital, where Kelsey worked.

Once there, she was seen by Dr. Harris. He was concerned right away; it seemed like Kelsey was having a stroke. So he called Neurology at the University of Alberta Hospital and sent them her CT scan.

They knew they needed to act quickly to get her to the University of Alberta Hospital. The team at the U of A Hospital advised Dr. Harris and his team to start Kelsey on tPA – a blood clot busting drug – and have EMS transfer her immediately. It was a good thing they acted fast.

Kelsey was in the prime of her life. She was a new mother, with a 10-month-old daughter named Juliette. She loved her work as a general surgery nurse. She couldn’t believe something like this was happening to her.

“I thought my life was over,” said Kelsey.

“I wasn’t thinking clearly at the time, but one thing kept going through my head: ‘My daughter needs her momma. I’m not ready to die.’ I wasn’t ready to leave her or my amazing life.”

“I’m grateful my mother was right there beside me throughout this experience. She kept telling me over and over, ‘it’s okay, I’m right here my girl. I’m right here.’ It was the calm reassurance that I needed during the worst moment in my entire life.”

As soon as Kelsey arrived at the U of A Hospital, she had her first stroke. She was transferred to the Neuro ICU, and her worst fear came true. She became paralyzed on her right side and had a second stroke. Then, she started seizing on her left side.

She had to have an endovascular thrombectomy. After her care team removed two out of three clots, she regained feeling on her right side. Without this procedure and her medical team’s quick thinking and actions, she would probably be wheelchair bound today.

That day was the beginning of a long road to recovery. Kelsey was not able to read and could barely speak. She went through intense rehabilitation therapy and practiced reading her daughter’s beginner reading books every day.

Now she is back to working full time as a LPN on a busy surgical unit – during a PANDEMIC no less! She loves spending time with her family, going camping in the summer, and five-pin bowling.

In fact, she returned to bowling about a week after she got out of the hospital. She has been an avid bowler her whole life, and it was the first thing she wanted to do when she got home – to be with a community where she felt welcomed and safe, and free from judgement while she worked to regain her speech.

Today, she wants to help raise awareness and be an advocate for stroke care any way that she can.

“I can’t thank my entire healthcare team enough – my nurses, my neurology team and Dr. Jeerakathil, and all the hospital staff. These people saved my life and liveliness. I am so grateful,” said Kelsey. “They pushed me to get better and that’s exactly what I am today in all ways. I am just so grateful that I was one of the lucky people to get a second chance at life.”

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