SELINSGROVE — In 2014 Kara Bigger was a happy 25-year-old married woman who was in seemingly good health. She had a job she liked and had, in fact, recently been promoted. Things were going well.
“I was healthy — I hadn’t had any medical conditions, no issues,” said Kara.
So one day, when she got a terrible headache, she didn’t think much of it.
“I was at work when it started, and it just progressively got worse,” she recalled.
Having gotten headaches in the past, Kara said she went home to rest, hoping it would pass. When it didn’t, and the pain became intolerable, her husband, Cody, took her to the Med Express in Selinsgrove.
“They said it was a migraine,” said Cody. “They gave her a shot and said the pain should go away in about 20 minutes. They told me to take her home and to get some sleep.”
So that’s what he did — once Kara was settled in, Cody went back to work. But Kara’s headache didn’t go away; instead, it got worse.
“I waited an hour and a half and it just wouldn’t go away,” said Kara. She tried taking a hot shower, but still, the headache persisted. Eventually, Kara called her husband at work and asked him to take her to the emergency room at Evangelical Community Hospital.
During the drive, Cody said he noticed his wife wasn’t acting quite right.
“Her speech was a little bit off and she couldn’t really walk on her own,” he said.
Still operating under the assumption that Kara’s pain was due to “a really bad headache,” neither Cody nor Kara gave much thought to the pain being associated with anything serious. They certainly didn’t think it was possible Kara was suffering a stroke.
But that’s exactly what was happening.
May is National Stroke Awareness Month, an observance that highlights the importance of knowing the signs and symptoms of stroke. Kara and Cody wanted to share their story with the hope that someone else can learn from their experience.
Dr. Christopher Cummings, a neurologist at Geisinger Medical Center, Danville, was one of the doctors who treated Kara. He said a sudden and severe headache is often a sign of something more serious and should not be shrugged off.