Sarah Porter is a quality data coordinator at Maine Medical Partners Neurosurgery and Spine. She has a public health degree and is passionate about neuroscience.
She has described her position as a “dream come true,” and not just on a professional level. Her job and her passion for neuroscience are extremely personal.
The surgeon with whom she works actually operated on her. Her empathy for other stroke patients is genuine as she herself has been a two-time stroke survivor.
The classmate expressed concern that Porter had just had a stroke. Porter laughed off her classmate’s diagnosis of a stroke, but when she stood up, something was terribly wrong.
Porter had no feeling in her right side, an intense headache, and face spasms. Her parents, who happen to be doctors, told her to go the ER right away after their daughter called them for advice.
Her brother met her at the ER and knew immediately that his sister was having a stroke as her symptoms were getting progressively worse and showing more specifically stroke-like characteristics. Porter had no control over her speech or facial movements.
Yet, Porter was not taken seriously by nurses and was even accused of trying to skip out on finals. Porter was ready to leave, but her brother was her biggest advocate and got the attention of a doctor.
The doctor’s quick recognition of Porter’s need for emergency attention saved her life. If she had listened to the nurses telling her she was making up her symptoms, she likely would have died.
The next thing Porter remembers was waking up in the ICU and being told she’d had a hemorrhagic stroke. She was then given two options about how to proceed.
She could either undergo brain surgery to remove the abnormal cluster of brain cells or arteriovenous malformation in her brain, or not take on the risks of surgery and hope the stroke was a once-in-a-lifetime event. Porter chose to not get the surgery.
Sadly, it was not a once-in-a-lifetime event. Porter had a second stroke when she was 24 years old.
The familiar foggy and tired feeling she’d had in math class came over her again while she was at Columbia University’s medical campus, pursuing a post-graduate degree. Thankfully, she was able to quickly walk to the ER and alert the desk that she was having a stroke.
She was taken seriously this time and went through with the brain surgery, despite its risk, to remove the AVM. While she was recovering at home with her parents, she experienced a very swollen eye.
Her swollen eye was a symptom of the brain infection she had contracted as a result of the brain surgery. She was driven through a snowstorm to receive another emergency brain surgery to treat the infection.
The stroke, brain surgery, and then rare complication from the surgery were extremely trying times physically and emotionally, but she is now doing remarkably well. The right side of her face has limited movement, but she has been committed to living a healthy and full life dedicated not only to her own health, but the health of the stroke patients with whom she now works.
And if anyone can understand the particular trials of her stroke patients, it’s Porter. Bless this woman for turning her weaknesses into strengths, and her suffering into concern and care for others!
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