Katie O.

New York, United States

The Comeback is Stronger than the Setback

I woke up on the morning of April 18th seeing double. What I initially thought was just sleepiness in my eyes turned out to be an abscess that was forming on my brain stem. I was quickly losing my ability to walk, speak and see normally. My family thought they lost me. But due to quick thinking and skilled advocacy from my husband and sister, and because of a social media post that went viral in the school community where my husband and I teach, my life was saved. The culprit turned out to be a bacteria known as Streptococcus Intermedius (a relative of the "strep throat" bacteria). To this day, no one in the medical community can explain how this happened.
After several MRIs and two hospitalizations, it was determined that I needed emergency brain surgery; a craniotomy, in which they were able to drain the abscess. At the time of my surgery, I was only able to move my right hand. The abscess was affecting nerves that controlled my ability to walk, talk, and see.
I consider myself a lifelong athlete. After college, I developed a love of cycling, competing in duathlons and participating in long-distance charity rides. I am positive that my survival and ongoing recovery is due to the physical strength I built as an avid cyclist.
The doctors who cared for me had never met a person that survived a mid-brain stem abscess. If the abscess had been any higher or lower, the results would have been catastrophic. I still have some lingering effects from the infection, but the hard work of my rehabilitation has resulted in a tremendous comeback. Unfortunately, my balance is still off, and I can no longer ride my bike independently. My husband and I bought a tandem bike, but I wish I could ride when and where I want, and have greater independence with my workouts. A Peloton Bike would enable me to work out safely on my own schedule, and hopefully make an eventual return to competitive riding.


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