By Samantha Biastre
In Jan. 2014, Jennifer Sommers was beginning the process of physical, occupational and speech therapy. A few days into her winter break, Sommers suffered a stroke from the most unlikely cause, her prescription birth control pills.
Originally, having left early from her job at a local day care, Sommers thought that she had the flu. She made it home and to her bathroom before her boyfriend, Andrew Miller, found her hours later. He had grown concerned after failing to reach her by phone and text.
Miller didn’t wait to call an ambulance. He rushed Sommers to the nearest hospital. At first doctors diagnosed her with a drug overdose, but then a CT scan revealed multiple clots in a cerebral vein of in her brain. The clots blocked blood that was supposed to be flowing out of the brain and had caused dangerous swelling, what doctors call an ischemic stroke.
The family demanded more from the doctors since Sommers was in such a dire state. She was then flown on a medical helicopter to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. There she was immediately put into surgery, where a hair-thin catheter was inserted into her leg and threaded up to the blocked vein to break up the clots.
After spending ten days in the hospital, Sommers was able to go back home where her therapy continued under the direction of her older brother, Michael, who had just become a chiropractor.
When the stroke happened, Sommers had completed all of her necessary elementary education course work and just needed to student teach before she planned to graduate in the spring of 2014. Delayed only one semester later, Sommers completed her student teaching in the Bangor Area School District close to her hometown of Stroudsburg. She graduated the fall semester of 2014.
What helped Sommers push through her long road of recovery was her want “to make a difference in other people’s lives.” She said, “I wanted my life to finally go back to normal and the only way I thought that would happen is if I could finish school.”
After the months of different therapies, Sommers says, “It feels outstanding to finally be done with school. After a lot of hard work, I finally reached my goal. I feel like I can overcome anything if I overcame this past year.”
Sommers is currently working as a preschool teacher at Amazing Place LLC in Stroudsburg, Pa. and is searching for Special Education positions for the upcoming school year.
Overall, Sommers hopes that people can take away from her story the dangers of birth control pills and their side effects. She states, “Life is not always easy, but if you work hard you can accomplish everything. Never give up!”