Wanda Sturtz’s Story
Stroke Survivor Commits to Managing Stress and High Blood Pressure
“I’ve been living my life to the fullest, because I’ve seen just how fast my life could’ve been taken from me.”
—Wanda Sturtz, stroke survivor
For Wanda Sturtz of Meta, Missouri, it all started with a horrible headache that came out of nowhere one day in late March 2017. Wanda, 46, had felt fine all day, but after a family dinner, when everyone gathered outside to pose for a family photo, the pain struck.
“I had never had a headache like that,” she said. Wanda felt like she was about to pass out and lost feeling on the right side of her body. One of her daughters called 9-1-1 while the other, a first responder studying to be a nurse, ran to get an emergency medical kit. An ambulance arrived minutes later.
Wanda had suffered a hemorrhagic stroke. A weakened blood vessel had ruptured inside her brain, flooding the surrounding tissue with blood. Doctors blamed the stroke on stress and high blood pressure. In the hospital’s intensive care unit, doctors used medicines to help control Wanda’s blood pressure. Because the stroke left Wanda without any feeling on the right side of her body, she spent 3 weeks in a nearby rehabilitation center, relearning how to function and take care of herself.
“I had to learn how to walk, everything, like I was starting over again,” she said. But Wanda was determined to “get back to as normal as I could.” She drew on her faith and the people around her, who were inspired by her determination. Wanda credits support from her husband and family for helping her get through recovery.
Five months after her stroke, Wanda returned to work. A year after her stroke, she still doesn’t have feelings on the right side of her body and has trouble hearing in one ear.
But the stroke has also encouraged her to make some positive changes. Wanda has lost weight and inspired her husband to start exercising again. She monitors her blood pressure, takes her medicine as prescribed, and has learned how to manage stress better. Her physical limitations haven’t stopped her from joining friends and family on outings, whether for a walk around the office or a much longer event. Wanda recently started going to physical therapy again and hopes she’ll soon be strong enough to return to the country dances she loved attending.