Karla Wilson, left, and Leila Wilson
ST. PETERSBURG — Each year, nearly 130,000 Americans die from stroke. It is the third leading cause of death for women and the fifth leading cause for men. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), African Americans are more impacted by stroke than any other racial group within the American population.
In June of last year at the age of 43, Karla Wilson suffered a stroke. Once she arrived to the emergency room tests revealed an occlusion of the left carotid artery. She ended up in the intensive care unit, which led to a 28-day hospitalization stay at a rehabilitation unit.
During her time in the hospital, she had the opportunity to meet and see other stroke victims like herself. She provided them with encouragement knowing that she was blessed when she met some less fortunate than herself in similar situations.
It has been noted that the majority of women who have a stroke will most likely live in a long-term healthcare facility and will usually have the worst recovery. Wilson’s return to home was very different than the way she had left. She was in a wheelchair and had paralysis on her right side.
“I paid attention to everything they did to and for me while I was hospitalized so when I went home I could care for myself,” said. Wilson.
She was determined to regain her strength and return to her optimal level of functioning. In April of this year, Wilson’s mother put together a stroke awareness event at her church, and her aunt, a retired registered nurse and also a stroke survivor, did a presentation on stroke signs and symptoms, risk factors and prevention.
One year later, Wilson walks without any assistive devices and continues to have some paralysis in her right arm and fingers.
Wilson believes because there was hope and help, there had to have been healing.