Having A Stroke 23 Years Ago While Pregnant: I Can’t Remember And I Can’t Forget

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woman sitting thinking

I’m reminded every day of things I can no longer do. I watch people jog across intersections to make it to the other side of the street before the traffic light changes. I see a similar jog or run to the car in the rain with the speed adjusted automatically depending on whether it is a light drizzle or a torrential downpour.

It's such small things like this, that make me wish for what I used to have. The ability to run out of a storm, or a bad situation, doesn't seem important at the time, but it's something I long to do, and cannot do anymore. 

Sometimes carrying an umbrella in addition to a bag of groceries or a young child. I watch joggers and cyclists enjoying their exercise outings. Most drivers turn the steering wheel using both hands in a hand-over-hand motion.

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That is a short list of things I can’t do since I had a stroke almost 23 years ago.

Living in the world of able-bodied people reminds me of so many things that are no longer options as far as activity whether it is as simple as carrying a bag of groceries to the car or packing up moving boxes and carrying them out of the house.

There is a much longer list of activities I enjoyed that have been permanently closed for me since exactly half my body stopped working properly after I had the stroke. I was hemiplegic for months following the cerebral hemorrhage that came out of nowhere when I was 35 and 6 months pregnant.

The baby was delivered normally while I was still hemiplegic and that baby turns 23 next year. He's going to go on and do amazing things, and I'm so proud of him. But sometimes I wonder about how my life could have been if I hadn't had that stroke.

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Memories of doing things such as hiking and skiing have grown dim, but I know I did them and have photos to prove it. I don’t have a clear somatic memory of doing athletic activities although I was a dancer and a gymnast when I was young.

They were much simpler times when I had such trust in my body and didn't think anything would happen to destroy that trust. It isn’t easy to remember doing those things now as I struggle to simply walk. But I had done those things, and my disability does not hinder those accomplishments.

I have recovered enough in 22 years to be able to live a full life, but I still can’t remember being athletic while at the same time I can’t forget.

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Victoria Ponte is a storyteller, a champion equestrian, a tambourine player, a young stroke survivor, and a mother. Check out her website at

This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.