Erica Norman thought she was having a heart attack at the gym.
Her left arm went numb, her balance was thrown off. She sat in a chair and told a friend to call 911.
A self-described fitness freak, Norman thought there was no way she was dying at the age of 27.
“I thought it was the last thing that would ever happen to me,” she said. “This is why I am so healthy — to eliminate the chances of anything like this happening.”
Inside her head, Norman’s brain was bleeding. She was having a stroke and needed immediate medical attention.
She was rushed to a nearby hospital, in her new home state of Indiana, where she was placed on the intensive care unit. She remained there for four days before being moved to a regular bed in the hospital on Friday.
Norman speaks without any impediment, but walking without a walker is impossible for now.
Her left side is weak, and she has limited use of her left arm.
“I call it my spaghetti arm,” she said, laughing through tears. “Just to keep good spirits.”
When she first arrived at the hospital, doctors asked if she had family they could call. Norman asked them not to call her parents — she didn’t want to worry them.
She soon changed her mind and her parents, Paul and Jackie, were on the next flight stateside.
“They have brightened my days in so many ways,” she said. “They told me I was strong. They told me I could do it.”
Medical bills piling up
A graduate of Memorial University, Norman recently took a job with a biomedical engineering firm in Indiana.
She had a one-year contract without benefits — not an ideal situation, but one she didn’t mind as a healthy young woman.
“I didn’t think that anything like this would happen,” she said.
Little did she know, she was born with an arteriovenous malformation — a cluster of infused blood…