Jennifer Stessel, of Wayne, NJ, headed to her weekly spin class in Wyckoff, NJ, on November 13, 2022. As the class began, everything was normal until she started to feel very hot. The next thing she recalled, she was suddenly taken off the bike, unaware of what was going on. Her vision blurred, and her entire left side was immobile.
“I just remember telling everyone I was fine. I was very coherent. My instructor had taken a class on seizure prevention, and she thought I had a seizure,” the 30-year-old said. “I didn’t really realize what was happening until I got to the hospital and heard them say ‘Code Blue Stroke.’”
Jennifer was taken to The Valley Hospital by ambulance and received a computed tomography (CT) scan, which revealed three blood clots in her brain. She was administered tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), which is a clot-dissolving medicine and the first treatment for acute ischemic stroke.
The third-grade teacher was put into surgery for a thrombectomy, which is a surgical procedure used to remove blood clots from an artery or vein. Two of her three clots were removed this way, while the other one dissolved.
“An hour after surgery, I was in the recovery room asking the nurses to put on the New York Giants game, and an hour after that, I was able to move my body,” Jennifer said. “That night, I felt back to normal and not even three full days later, I was released.”
Jennifer continues to work with her care team to determine the cause of the stroke she had at a young age even though she lives a very healthy, active lifestyle. Her left side has only residual pins and needles. “Today, I truly feel like myself and have gone back to teaching and my spin classes. I tell people it feels like a dream because of how well I feel and how I am doing all of my normal activities,” she said.
“I never thought anything like this would happen to me, and it was a very scary situation. I am incredibly thankful and grateful that I was in the right place at the right time, at my spin class and not alone at home, with an instructor who knew what to do, and being sent to Valley with the right doctors,” Jennifer said. “It really is a miracle. I cannot thank the doctors and nurses enough. I am so grateful to be alive.”
Click here for more information about stroke care at Valley.
Warning Signs of Stroke
If you are experiencing sudden weakness or numbness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body; sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or understanding; sudden difficulty seeing in one or both eyes; sudden trouble walking, dizziness, or loss of balance/coordination; sudden severe headache with no known cause; or difficulty swallowing, call 911 immediately.