A new perspective; 27-year-old stroke survivor shares her story

Published: May. 18, 2022 at 5:40 PM CDT
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BIWABIK, MN -- A Northland woman was hit with a harsh reality at a young age, but after several months of recovery, she says she has a new perspective on life.

27-year-old Kailey Lahti was heading to bed one night last December when she began to feel strange.

“My lips started going tingly and numb and so I got out of bed and I said [to my husband], ‘Something’s wrong. I need to go to the hospital,’” said Lahti as she recounted her experience.

Lahti’s left side had gone numb and she felt a sharp pain in her temple.

She and her husband called 911 and paramedics arrived quickly.

At the time, Lahti thought she was having an allergic reaction.

She was aware the symptoms she was experiencing were consistent with a stroke, but since she was so young it didn’t occur to her that might be what was going on.

“[The doctors] did a CT scan and they saw that I had a dissected artery in my vertebral column... So they thought I was having a stroke,” she said.

More testing determined that was indeed the case.

Lahti’s entire left side was weakened and she began experiencing double vision and nausea.

The next few days were a blur as she began the road to recovery.

“I wasn’t able to stand or walk. I couldn’t walk to the bathroom. I couldn’t stand up to shower, I couldn’t even get into a chair,” she said.

Several months of physical therapy followed and in April, Lahti was finally able to return to work.

Now, she’s almost completely recovered.

She says looking back, she would never have expected she could have a stroke at just 27-years-old.

“I was a healthy person. I was on my feet. I was active. I ate right and for this to happen to me it’s really opened my eyes to seeing that these types of medical conditions don’t discriminate against age,” she said

Brad Donaldson with the Minnesota Stroke Association says Kelly’s story is important since it demonstrates strokes can happen without warning at any age.

“Every 40 seconds, someone in the US has a stroke. So it happens and it happens at a rapid pace,” Donaldson said.

He said it’s important to be wary of the warning signs since strokes can manifest in so many different ways.

“Strokes can have such drastic residuals, whether it be with cognitive impairment, paralysis, movement issues, aphasia, or loss of communication,” he said.

Lahti said the experience gave her a new perspective on life.

“It’s not that I took my life for granted but to have to learn how to walk again. Have to learn how to stand again have to learn how to grab things again. It really makes you appreciate what you can do versus what you can’t do,” she said.

If you suspect you or someone you know is having a stroke, call 911 immediately.

Timely treatment can cut one’s recovery time and occasionally prevent more serious side effects.

The Strides for Stroke walk takes place on Saturday, May 21.

All money raised goes toward the Minnesota Stroke Association, which helps support stroke victims and their families.

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