Beau Biden, Son of VP Joe Biden, Suffers Stroke

Soon, she had no control over her eyes at all. "Oh my God," she thought to herself. "I am having a stroke."

By the time Hendrix arrived at the critical care center, her whole right side was not responding and aphasia - or the inability to communicate -- set in.

She tried to talk, but only "gibberish" came out. "The brain literally forgets how to talk," she said.

Hendrix was unconscious for six hours and doctors had no idea what was wrong with her. "When I arrived at the emergency room doctors left me on the gurney for hours unattended while the stroke ravaged my brain," said Hendrix.

When she was eventually diagnosed, doctors learned she had a congenital hole in her heart that had caused the stroke. Only days before, Hendrix had sprained her ankle and not followed doctors' advice to stay off her feet.

A clot broke free, shot through her heart and into the vessels of her brain.

Today, at 34, Hendrix still struggles with severe memory loss and partial paralysis.

"I had just completed the pageant and yet I couldn't brush my own hair," she said of the ordeal.

Hendrix had to return to college to relearn basic math and could no longer sustain her high-pressure job. Today she works as a dental assistant.

"I forced myself with the help of others to get things back, but nothing is really the same as it was," she said.

Hendrix also travels around the country and shares her story, lobbying for bills and helping other stroke survivors.

"It has turned into amazing friendships," she said. "It opened my eyes and I kind of feel blessed. I found out what was important at such a young age. I used to think I wanted to come home to a closet full of nice clothes or a new car, but all that can be stripped from you."

The National Stroke Association recommends the F.A.S.T. test as a quick screening tool to identify strokes:

Face -- Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

Arms -- Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

Speech -- - Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Are the words slurred? Can they repeat the sentence correctly?

Time -- If the person shows any of these symptoms, time Is important. Call 911 or Get to the hospital. Brain cells Are dying.

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