Please allow me to introduce you to my only child and precious daughter, Lila. She is a vivacious, 18-year-old whose life took an unexpected turn last fall when she suffered a stroke.
Lila Lives Life To the Fullest
Lila has always been a bright, fun-loving, cheerful girl with a big smile and infectious laugh who lives life to the fullest. She enjoys playing volleyball, tennis and snowboarding in winter. Anything outdoorsy or adventurous is her jam! Lila loves fishing, hiking, climbing, roller coaster riding and traveling when and wherever possible.
Some of her most memorable trips include kayaking the caves in La Jolla, California and reaching the peak of Camelback Mountain in Scottsdale, Arizona. She dives into the culture of our great city of Cincinnati, often exploring with her boyfriend. They enjoy going to the museums, parks, music festivals and on any given weekend can be spotted visiting a new eatery on a quest to find the tastiest burger! Her dad and I agree that Lila’s number one priority in life is to have fun and make memories.
Lila Suddenly Has a Difficult Time Speaking
Last fall, Lila was attending Gateway Community & Technical College as a first semester student pursuing studies in pre-nursing. I received a call from her that she wasn’t feeling well. She had been struggling with a cold, but additionally was having trouble understanding and expressing speech. It was sudden onset. Her professors weren’t “making sense” to her, and she couldn’t remember simple words at times. I have some medical background as registered nurse and felt like her symptoms were consistent with having aphasia, which is a loss of ability to understand or express speech. She was young and otherwise healthy, but my knee-jerk reaction was to worry she was having a stroke.
I put her through a series of physical tests to check for facial feature symmetry and equal strength bilaterally, and she passed all of those with flying colors. The words she did use were clear and articulate, but her inability to finds the right words when she tried to speak was very alarming to me. She would have to pause to think of simple words and would occasionally substitute the wrong word to try and express herself. I was not used to this from my college student!
MRI Shows Lila Had a Ischemic Stroke
After consulting with emergency medical professionals and a group of neurologists, they weren’t yet convinced she was suffering a stroke. When she hadn’t improved within a few days, I persisted and received the “ok” for Lila to have an MRI of her brain. Following her MRI, we were immediately consulted in person by her neurologists who delivered the devastating news that Lila had indeed suffered an ischemic stroke caused by a blood clot. It was immediate shock and tears for us all, followed by bear-gripping hugs and gratitude that her life was spared.
She was directly admitted overnight for observation, put on aspirin therapy, and consulted with many specialists. After a series of assessments, it was determined that Lila would need to proceed with speech therapy on an outpatient basis. Her college studies would be suspended for now, and her focus was rehabilitation. It was a lot to digest. Thankfully, Lila’s positive outlook, strong spirit, and the thoughtful prayers of others bolstered her determination to persevere. Now we just needed to find the best treatment. That we did, in abundance, when we were introduced to the most amazing speech-language pathologist named Stephanie Volker at Cincinnati Children’s!
Lila Begins Speech-Language Pathology
Lila began meeting with Stephanie twice a week for intensive speech-language pathology. I’ll never forget our first consultation with her. Stephanie’s experience, competence and compassionate approach was evident immediately. It was an emotional encounter when Stephanie explained to Lila that she hadn’t lost her intelligence. Her knowledge was still there, it just needed to be reorganized. I watched Lila’s countenance go from defeated to encouraged!
The exercises Stephanie gave Lila were perfectly tailored to be challenging but attainable. She would do reading, writing, recall and game exercises with Lila in session, and give homework. She kept it interesting and fun, always! Some of Lila’s favorites were speech therapy computer games, word board games, riddle worksheets and website links Stephanie referenced that simulated mini-college lectures with competency tests.
Stephanie not only cared for Lila’s immediate speech needs, but also helped with future planning. She understands Lila’s desires to return to college in the future and made suggestions of tools to help get back on track. She showed us recording devices to make note taking easier and suggested computer extensions where you can record and control the speed of lectures.
Lila Has Nearly Returned to Her Pre-Stroke State
Stephanie has had the greatest impact on Lila’s recovery. Thanks to her, and her experience in speech-language pathology, Lila is flourishing and has nearly returned to her pre-stroke state. She’s enjoying her life again, speaking clearly, and excited for what her future holds. We will forever be grateful for Stephanie Volker, speech-language pathology and the staff at Cincinnati Children’s!