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A stroke survivor's road to recovery after MS misdiagnosis

A stroke survivor’s road to recovery after MS misdiagnosis
A stroke survivor’s road to recovery after MS misdiagnosis 02:03

ATLANTA (WUPA) -- The unthinkable happened to Jordan Plunkett in 2019 when she was 29.

"I saw my husband talking to me, but I couldn't hear him," she said, recalling one of the many warning signs she experienced.

The downward spiral continued until June 23, 2019, a day she'll never forget.

"I looked at my husband, and I was like, 'Brad, my eye is really bothering me,' and when he turned around, his jaw like hit the floor," Plunkett said, describing how her eye was extremely swollen.

Until that point, she had been suffering from headaches, fainting spells, and numbness, which ultimately led to her being misdiagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

Doctors checked her into a hospital, and about one day later, things worsened.

"I woke up, and my left side was completely paralyzed," she said, explaining how the paralysis was caused, in part, by a cerebral spinal fluid leak.

She spent weeks in rehab with her husband Brad by her side, and after three years of turmoil, they decided to switch doctors. She was shocked to learn that she'd had a stroke instead of M.S.

However, after surgery, she saw some encouraging signs of progress.

"Slowly and slowly, more and more came back. My hand started moving," she said.

The National Institutes of Health reports the fourth most common medical misdiagnosis is a stroke, and 10% of stroke patients are under the age of 45.

Plunkett's occupational therapist, Hannah Thomas, described the challenging rehabilitation process.

"Lots of strengthening, working on some of those like, global skills, and through all of it, just learning how to advocate for yourself," said Thomas. "It's so important for people to be able to move forward and to get the resources they need to have that correct diagnosis." 

Advocating for yourself is important when it comes to your own health and well-being.

"You have to be your own advocate. If something feels wrong, chances are there probably is something wrong," said Plunkett.

The now 32-year-old survivor uses a Bioness L300 brace, a wireless device that helps her to walk.

"She's a true champion for perseverance, and it's fun to be on her side watching her," said her husband Brad.

The journey has left her partially blind in one eye and paralyzed from the knee down on the left, but she says there's a silver lining.

"I am most thankful that I became the person that I was supposed to through all of this," Plunkett said.

She's also thankful to share her message of resilience and hope for all who need to hear it.

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