UK student thankful for music after surviving a rare stroke

UK student thankful for music after surviving a rare stroke
Published: May. 22, 2023 at 5:44 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - May is Stroke Awareness Month.

The Centers for Disease Control says every year, 800,000 Americans have a stroke.

Recently, a University of Kentucky doctoral student celebrated a year of life after suffering a series of rare strokes last April.

Adiel Nájera credits alert friends and the quick care of doctors for getting him back to his passion, making music, which is also serving as therapy now.

“I tried other instruments, and I was actually better at other instruments, but I was pretty determined I wanted to play trumpet,” said Adiel.

For Adiel, a UK doctoral student, the determination to master the instrument comes from watching his father, a retired band director, play his entire life.

“From day one, it’s been a part of my life, so I wanted to explore it, the area, and see where I can go, and I’ve thankfully reached great heights,” said Adiel.

Doctors determined Adiel had experienced multiple strokes and rushed him to UK, where he underwent brain surgery.

“With his location of his stroke, the swelling was starting to compromise his brain stem, which is basically the motherboard that connects the brain to the rest of the body. Adiel had what is a stroke due to a dissection or a tear of the inside wall of the artery,” said Dr. David Dornbos, a neurologist at UK Hospital.

Dr. Dornbos says Adiel’s most dangerous stroke happened in the cerebellum, the part of the brain near the base of the skull that is crucial to movement, balance and motor function.

“This type of a stroke, this type of an injury is relatively rare. When we tend to see it, we tend to see it in younger people, typically in their 20s, 30s, 40s,” said Dr. Dornbos.

For Adiel, now a year later, the entire ordeal is still a blur.

“I don’t remember that time really specifically, so to me, it’s like I wake up most every day, and it’s like, oh, I feel like a normal person like nothing ever happened to me,” said Adiel.

Adiel’s family credits Dr. Dornbos for saving their son’s life.

Dr. Dornbos calls Adiel remarkable after seeing him a year later work hard through occupational, speech and physical therapy.

And now, just over a year later, Dr. Dornbos is happy to hear Adiel hit all the right notes again.

“When I get to share my gifts that I’ve been blessed to have with other people, no matter what the setting is, that’s something that money can’t buy,” said Adiel.

Adiel performed with the UK Wind Symphony just five months after his series of strokes.

He is on course to earn his Doctorate of Musical Arts in Trumpet Performance next year.

It is important we all know the warning signs of a stroke.

What you should look for, think BE FAST:

  • Balance-Loss of Balance, Dizziness
  • Eyes-Vision Changes
  • Face-Facial Drooping, Severe Headache
  • Arms-Weakness, Numbness
  • Speech-Trouble Speaking, Confusion
  • Time-To Call 911