Christi Hergott woke up one morning last year with a throbbing headache that wouldn’t quit.
The 22-year-old popped a couple of pain killers and decided to wait it out, but she knew something was wrong when around 7 p.m. she couldn’t move her arm.
“When you stare at your hand and it doesn’t move, and you can’t talk without slurring, it’s terrifying. You can’t tell what’s going on,” she said.
Hergott called a friend and went to the hospital where she learned she’d suffered a major stroke.
“My grandpa had had one a week before and actually passed away while I was in the hospital, but he was 80, I was 22. I didn’t know what it was,” she said.
Three weeks later she suffered a second, less intense stroke at work. A third minor stroke followed this past January. Doctors discovered her heart was throwing out blood clots, but they still aren’t sure why.
What doctors do know is Hergott’s speedy recovery is largely due to her young age, healthy diet, and good fitness level.
“Keep your healthy lifestyle,” Hergott said as she spoke at the 19th annual Heart and Stroke Foundation’s (HSF) dragon boat races Saturday. “So what, it’s a stroke, you can still keep going. You don’t have to go sit in your rocker every day. Get up and go.”
Melody Lynch with the HSF Saskatchewan branch said 70,000 Canadian die annually from heart and stroke related diseases and there are 315,000 people living with the effects.
“Part of our mission is helping people prevent this disease and also save more lives and extend their lives as well,” Lynch said. “Anything we can promote and encourage in terms of heart health activities like dragon boat racing… it all goes to helping make Canadians healthier.”
Since HSF became the lead organizer of the dragon boat races in 2008, they have raised $866,000 for research.
Hergott encouraged people to get involved in physical activities.
“I didn’t think it could happen. I was 22, I’m not supposed to have these but it does happen,” she said.
Despite her ordeal she said she can still have fun and laugh at herself. “It’s like ‘oh I forgot something and I can’t find it in my 200 square foot apartment, darn you strokes.’”
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