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‘I thought it was a headache:’ Woman in her 20s suffers stroke, shares remarkable recovery

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MILWAUKEE -- Every day, Marinda Ledermann works hard to get her body back to what it used to be.

Victory is won in small, incremental steps. The 25-year-old is battling her way back from something she never thought would happen to her a stroke.

It started last October. "I had a horrible headache. I thought it was a headache caused by not having coffee that morning -- like a caffeine withdrawal," Ledermann told WITI.

Marinda Ledermann

Marinda Ledermann

The following morning she felt fine. But then her neck started to ache.

"Down the right side of my neck, that felt like it was stiff from stress," Ledermann said.

Shortly after that, she realized that something was seriously wrong.

"My words came out all mumbled and I couldn't move my tongue the right way or my lips," said Ledermann.

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Luckily, Marinda's husband recognized the signs for what they were.

"He told me to lift both my arms up -- and I wasn't really able to lift my left arm up, but I didn't even notice. And he said 'don't panic, but I think you might be having a stroke,'" Ledermann said.

Froedtert & Medical College of WisconsinMarinda's husband called 911 and she was rushed to Froedtert Hospital. A malformation of blood vessels in Ledermann's head had indeed caused a stroke.

"You need to get to the hospital or get a 911 ambulance call as soon as possible. Every minute counts and every minute millions of neurons die," said Dr. John Lynch, Neuro Interventionalist at Froedtert Hospital and Medical College of Wisconsin.

The quick thinking of Ledermann's husband saved precious time.

Recovery hasn't been easy, and Ledermann still has a long way to go. But she expects the experience will be part of her life's purpose going forward.

May is American Stroke Month -- and Ledermann is sharing her remarkable story, hoping others will learn from it.

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"When you go through something traumatic, it just makes you that much more relatable to other people," Ledermann said. "So I see myself talking to other people, helping them to remain patient in whatever their trial might be."

Strokes can happen at any age. CLICK HERE to read more about stroke warning signs and symptoms.