Department: Diagnostic Imaging

Lewis Enjoys Her Second Chance

It was a typical Memorial Day weekend. Mammography Technologist Shae Lewis, RT(R)(M), headed home after her shift to enjoy the weekend with her family when her eyes started shifting back and forth uncontrollably. Lewis knew the weird sensation was concerning enough to go straight to the Emergency Department. Because no typical stroke symptoms were present and her initial CT and MRI scans were mostly normal, Lewis was discharged after a couple of days of careful monitoring.

The following week, Lewis suffered similar symptoms with her vision and was taken back to the Emergency Department, this time in an ambulance. Again, a whole gamut of tests were ordered. In the meantime, Lewis lost all memory between the two visits and her family had to convince her it wasn’t still Memorial Day weekend.

Finally a diagnosis came—occipital lobe stroke and right vertebral artery dissection, both extremely rare. For Lewis, who has worked at Island Health for 21 years, this was a gut punch. She knew her body and knew something was wrong, but hearing the words was surreal. She is used to caring for patients, not being the patient.

“It was an epiphany. Being a patient is hard. It changes you,” she said. Lewis had to grieve the diagnosis before she could even get close to accepting a new way of life.

“I miss my former life of laughing loudly and attending Seahawks games,” she said. “But once I mourned that, I could move on. I’m happier now and truly enjoying my second chance.”

In October, Lewis returned to her job part time and gradually worked back to full time. More than anything, she wants patients to pay attention to their bodies and learn to recognize the signs. Today, she still carries a notebook with copious notes and reminders. Her recovery includes puzzles and crosswords, and keeping her blood pressure down.

For Lewis, now even the simple things are new and wondrous.

That’s the beauty of a second chance.

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