May is National Stroke Awareness Month, and according to the National Stroke Association, 65 thousand Americans will suffer from a stroke in this month alone. Many people do not even realize they are at risk just as Bishop Ready High School golfer, Eva Grace. She suffered a stroke at the mere age of 16.
A stroke can happen to anyone, at any time, any age, but the National Stroke Association says it is important to act “F-A-S-T: Face-Drooping, Arm Weakness, Speech Difficulty, To call 9-1-1.” Eva was just a sophomore competing in a golf tournament for the Silver Knights in September of 2016 when she suffered her stroke, and she has her grandfather to thank for saving her life.
“She dropped the club several times trying to put it in the bag, and that’s when I went, uh oh, something is serious now, so I need to go back and find out what’s going on,” said Eva’s grandfather Tom Watson.
“I take my shot and as soon as I make impact with the ball, i feel the sensation that’s like butterflies consuming my whole body,” said Grace.
Having watched his granddaughter golf since she was 4 years old, Tom knew something was wrong, and called 9-1-1.
“So, that’s when we sat down and she couldn’t respond to me, and my mind was going to she looks like she’s having a stroke…but kids don’t have strokes,” said Watson.
They rushed her to the hospital, and within hours, Eva underwent emergency surgery to remove a blood clot in the left side of her brain.
“I knew in my heart, and in my head and in all of my being that I was going to be OK,” recalled Grace.
Eva now holds a special place in her heart for her surgeon, Dr. Nimjee, and she wants to follow in his footsteps and become a neurosurgeon.
“We’re pretty close, he told me that after this, we jumped off a cliff together, I can call him for anything that I need,” said Grace.
Tom now coaches the Ready girls golf team, and he thinks his granddaughter’s game is back up to par.
“The stroke didn’t appear to have that much of an affect on her, it was more in the thinking process and memory and stuff like that,” said Watson.
Eva sees a therapist twice a week. She works to repair her working memory, fueled by the memory of a stunning setback.
“Given an IQ test, in most areas she could perform average, so people say oh she’s fine, but when you’re used to scoring way above average, average is not OK,” said Eva’s mom Amy Grace.
“It knocked me up off my pedestal that all teenagers sit on, and you realize that you are not invincible, that with one snap of your fingers you could be done,” said Grace.