I Had a Stroke

On July 27, 2021, I had a carotid artery stroke (carotid and vertebral artery dissection) on the left side of my brain resulting in surgery and a stent in my neck artery. This has significantly affected my ability to speak, read and write. I have Broca’s aphasia and apraxia.

(FYI: My family helped me edit this blog.)

In August, I did speech therapy for 3 weeks, 5 days a week. But the therapist dropped me as a patient. I didn’t learn any words to this point.

Afterwards in September, I did 40 sessions of hyperbaric oxygen therapy or HBOT for five days a week. $250 per 1 hour session. $10,000.

On October 2021, I had a brain SPECT (brain imaging) done. Blue parts mean dead brain cells. Basically, my left side of my brain is dead. The picture below says my left side has impacted my ability to plan and analyze information, but this is not the case for me. The other ones do apply to me.

From July 27, 2021 – November 3, 2021, I was unable to speak. On November 3, I was able to say, “I love you,” my first words. I would soon learn up to 16 words.

On January 2022, I began speech therapy. I quickly learned up to 30 words. On April 21, 2022, I was up to 100 words (very slowly!).

Because I can’t read or write, I communicate to family using a text-to-speech app. When I read, I use the speak function to help me understand whether it be Facebook, e-mails or online literature.

My best speech app is called “My Aphasia Coach” from Dr. Bartels in St. Peterburg, Florida. Priced at $9.99 a month.




Speech therapist costs $85 every half hour. Instead of insurance, I have Christian Healthcare Ministry, a medical expense sharing plan. None of speech therapy was covered. My hospital charge was approximately $222,000 for my two weeks “stay.” However, charitable donations to the hospital’s financial aid office covered all my hospital costs. Zero! Praise God!

“Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!” Psalm 107:1

Written for Christian Healthcare Ministry for a magazine article.

“I was having headaches and neck pains the week of July 15, 2021 (my 45th birthday). But it was on July 21 I started experiencing stroke symptoms. I was having vision blurriness, feelings of almost passing out while driving to a hotel at Disney World. That’s when I started Googling and researching about symptoms that lead to a stroke. That’s when I told my daughter that I might have a stroke. The next day I felt better.

On July 24, 2021, Saturday, I had a 9am neck massage. After 5pm, I posted on Facebook groups asking thoughts on dizziness and difficulty seeing. That I was having trouble thinking clearly and seeing spots. That’s when I went to the hospital to get things checked out. That’s when I learned I had carotid Vascular Artery Dissection (VAD) on the left side of my neck. They wanted to admit me, but I couldn’t because I was still nursing my son (2.5 years old) at home. I was given aspirin and told to get a CAT scan the following Tuesday.

On Tuesday July 27, I was with my father on the way to get a CAT scan. During our wait we stopped at the beach and that’s when I told my father I’m not feeling good please take me to the ER. I was experiencing some symptoms from a couple days ago and then some: dizziness, difficulty seeing, slurred speech, and neck pain. In the ER, they determined that my neck artery was fully blocked, however three arteries were still fine. I was admitted that day. At 10pm they woke me up and asked me to speak and I couldn’t. It was a third stroke.”

After my stroke, I did not have full-function of my right-hand index finger.  I couldn’t bend my finger for about 2 months. Things like curling my hair were not happening about 3 months. I don’t know if cartilage in my finger was damaged. I had to use my left hand to brush my teeth and I still am today. I also use my left hand to cook. My finger get better today but still weakened.

About two months after my stroke, I went to church. I couldn’t sing. 🙁 It’s when I realized I couldn’t sing. I cried that day in the church bathroom while the church sang worship songs. Today, if the church music is slow and the lyrics are one syllable, I can sing. However, I can sing “Hallelujah.” I don’t know why.

In November 2021 we went to Disney World. I had to rent an electronic wheelchair to get around. We didn’t use it much. I was tired and fatigued.

We went again in May 2022, and I was not tired at all. (I don’t know why the pictures coming up crooked. Oh well.)

After my stroke, my eyes were not good at all. I couldn’t read without my glasses. Before stroke, my eyes were fine.

As for my speech, I can say 3 to 4 one syllable words very slowly. It’s embarrassing, so I don’t talk very much to others that I do not know very well.  After four words, my memory is not very good. I can’t speak sentences beyond 7 words.

I do not comprehend numbers very well (math). If you tell me numbers after 20 and I tell you to text me. My brain can’t comprehend it. But I can read it.

I can’t physically write on paper very well. I can write about 5 letters and then I’m done! My left side of my brain says, “No. Not gonna write.” My mom told me to write a note. But I replied, “No. I can’t.” I’ll write a prayer list about 1/2 page long. It took me 30 minutes to write.  I’m fine texting. But writing on paper, no.

Six months after my stroke surgery I was able to drive. Thank you, God! However, because I could not talk, I could not use Siri for directions. I got lost a lot when driving by myself.

About eight months after my stroke, I started working out at Planet Fitness a couple times a week. This included lifting weights. Before my stroke, I worked out often. I’ve been doing the carnivore diet since May, 2023 and switched to the keto diet. I lost 5 lbs which in water weight (bloated). I lost 3 inches from my waistline and I have 5 kids! 🙂 I’ll share my diets later in another blog post.

Why I am doing the carnivore diet and keto diet? I was living my Florida house in which we found mold. Our house was newly built in Naples, Florida. We moved in July, 2020. A plumber contractor of GL Homes, made an error plumbing under the island sink in the kitchen. We found a slow leak behind the walls in the island. It went unnoticed for 3 years. But I noticed under the sink there was mold everywhere. That was around February, 2023. That’s why I moved from Naples, Florida back to the Chicagoland area. My builder paid for it. It took 3 months to fix it. My builder paid the remediation company $39,000.

I did get divorced in March 2023, and we both moved back for the same reason. We’re also remaining friends as we both raise and co-parent Carson. I’ll write about the mold later. It’s a lot.

I read audiobooks, when they are available, especially the Bible app as it contains an audio component. I watch lots of YouTube videos. My mind is fine, but words get mixed up in my brain and when I speak. A lot of my friends ask me “Does the doctor say that your speech will come back?” I say, “No. It’s getting better but not like before.” Sarah Scott, on Youtube, had a stroke like 15 years ago when she was 18. She has Broca’s aphasia. Two years after her stroke she was just like me. After speech therapy every year, 15 years after her stroke, she was better but not like it was prior to her stroke. Like me, she can’t read.

Overall, it took about 10 months to get over my stroke.

It’s been over 2 years since my stroke, and I still love to cook. I still love to work out. I still love to give (my spiritual gift.) And I love shopping! 🙂 Why did I get a blood clot that caused my stroke when I had a healthy diet and natural lifestyle? One word: Mold.





Written by Sheri Fortes - Visit Website

Author of "All Natural Mom's Guide to the Feingold Diet"

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