There has been a rise in the number of younger people who are having strokes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. I’ve run across recent anecdotal evidence of it.
The hiphop artist Nate Dogg, for example, just died of complications from a stroke at 41. And Oriana Cornett suffered one at age 37.
It has been devastating for Cornett: She was two months shy of becoming a certified neurosurgeon. Now, because of her stroke, Cornett can’t move her left hand.
The Star-Ledger of Newark did a profile of Cornett last Thursday.
The only good thing about a physician getting a disease or condition is that they then become witnesses who can relate their experiences to their colleagues in the medical world. In Corbett’s case, she is lecturing — from the point of view of a stroke patient — at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) in Newark, where she studied.
Cornett had her stroke last April, almost a year ago, according to The Ledger. She woke up in her residence in Harlem and started to get ready to go to UMDNJ. She soon discovered that she couldn’t move her left hand, and she fell to the floor when her left leg went out from under her.
Initially, Cornett thought she was suffering from Guillain-Barre syndrome. She would not go to the hospital, even though her husband wanted her to.
When he came back home that day, he found Cornett on the floor again. She told him she was not going to work that day, not realizing that eight hours had passed. Her brain, deprived of oxygen because of her stroke, had scrambled her ability to gauge time.
As The Ledger pointed out, Cornett had suffered a major stroke, and had not had medical care for it until hours later.
Cornett had been quite healthy prior to her stroke, and doctors don’t know the reason she had one. She underwent months of difficult rehabilitation, just like any other stroke patient. She learned first-hand how hard it is to get back movement in a face or a foot, to learn how to walk again.
Cornett has been working full-time since the summer, but as The Ledger says, “Her career as a surgeon is on hold.”
Right now, in addition to being a speaker at a stroke conference at UMDNJ, Cornett on been doing research on how rest helps stroke patients, something she discovered herself.