I’m A Stroke Survivor

by irms

Today I had the pleasure of being a model in the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women Fashion Show Sponsored by Macy’s. All the models in the show are heart attack or stroke survivors. The point of the movement is to raise  awareness and for women to “band together to wipe out heart disease and stroke”.

Pre-show Hair & Make Up For Models

When my neurologist asked if I would be a part of this, I was shocked. I never really think of my “story” as an inspiration. I only think of it as my daily battle. Participating in this, however, made me feel proud to be a survivor.

This is my story, as it was written for the program:

Irma L. Olguin Jr.for AHA Go Red for Women Fashion Show

I was out shopping for a gift when it happened. Healthy, unsuspecting me, just thinking about lunch and what kind of necklace is appropriate for a medical school graduation. Somewhere between, “Can I help you?” and “Can I see this piece?”, I started to lose everything: my sight, my concentration, my balance, the feeling in half my body…and I’d gained a massive headache. Massive. I remember thinking, at first, that maybe I should cut the shopping short and get lunch sooner rather than later, so I tried to walk to the nearest pizzeria. I must have made it that far because that’s where the ambulance picked me up. After a lot of tests and some time in the hospital, I would learn that what I’d experienced is called a transient ischemic attack — that’s a stroke without the long-term effects. In my case, it was a warning shot. Even though I don’t match any of the criteria that normally marks someone a stroke-risk (I’m not overweight, I don’t drink, and I don’t smoke), I have two anatomic abnormalities with the blood vessels in my head that, when combined, form a medical minefield. The vessels in my cranium don’t connect, and some of them are way more narrow than they ought to be. All in all, this makes me one rare bird. It also makes me very careful with my health and aware of my body.

My name is Irma Olguin, Jr. I’m a 31-year-old computer engineer, entrepreneur, and stroke-survivor. I run almost everyday and watch everything I eat because I intend to do my part to lead a healthy life.

Like I heard many times today, “My story is not a sad story,” and I feel really lucky to be able to write that down.