September hasn't always been Ashley Irwin’s favorite month. Years ago, that time of year when the leaves changed into bright, warm colors held some of the darkest moments of her life.
In 2011, a 28-year-old Ashley was battling a particularly bad bout of Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory illness that can cause painful and often debilitating abdominal and bowel issues.
After the intense flare-up, Ashley was settling in at home again with the assistance of her mother. She was determined to regain her independence and get back on track.
But it wasn’t long before the sharp sensation of a migraine hit her full force. Pushing through the pain, she tried to check her email for any new messages, though it was nearly impossible to type in her username and password.
“As I sat in front of the computer, I couldn’t even remember my last name to log in to my email account—no matter how hard I tried,” Ashley recalled the terrifying moment.
Almost immediately, Ashley’s mother noticed her confusion, and stepped in to assess the situation and double-check her daughter’s cognitive abilities.
“My mom asked me, ‘Who am I? What’s my name?’ In my head, I knew she was my mother, but I just couldn’t connect the dots and express it,” Ashley said, describing her confusion and difficulty thinking. “At that moment, I couldn’t tell you her name or her relationship to me.”
Worried, the mother and daughter rushed to the Emergency Department at Wellstar Kennestone Hospital for immediate medical treatment. After being evaluated, it was clear that Ashley was dealing with much more than just a bad headache — she was having a stroke.