“I am a stroke survivor”

“I am a stroke survivor”
Michelle Fowler (right) with her neighbour Lisette Paré, who she described as one of the ‘angels’ of her recovery process. (Photo : Gordon Lambie)

By Gordon Lambie

The year 2020 sticks out for a lot of people because of the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic and everything that went with that, but it changed the life of Saint-Herménégilde resident Michelle Fowler in a completely different way.
On the morning of Jan. 8, 2020, she had a stroke that briefly put her in a coma before returning her to a world where at least at first she could not speak or walk, and where the faces of those closest to her seemed like strangers.
“I wasn’t aware of my body I wasn’t aware of what I was doing, my body was on autopilot, that’s the only way I can describe it,” she said, referring more to others’ descriptions of the experience than her own memories of the day itself. “I was saying words that didn’t make sense, but other than that I wasn’t displaying a lot of the symptoms people associate most with stroke.”
Fowler said she was at work when she started to show symptoms and said that she attributes a big part of the recovery she has managed to two factors: a shift change, and the tradition she and her daughter had of phoning each other in the morning.
“I didn’t call that morning, so she called me,” she said, explaining that it was in large part her daughter’s sense that something wasn’t right that got the ambulance there on time.
“That was a pivotal moment,” Fowler reflected, sharing that it was not that much later, after she failed to regain consciousness after the procedure to remove two blood clots from her brain, that her daughter was faced with a heart-wrenching question from the medical team. “My daughter was asked, should we do the operation because there is a chance she will never wake up.”
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