After stepping out of the golf cart on the 18th fairway, I got dizzy and wobbled a bit. I was playing a charity golf event in the suburbs of NYC, not far from home. I tried to focus, but when looking down at the ball, became even dizzier.
My playing partner was up by the green screaming at me to hit. I remember swinging and hitting the ball nowhere in the direction I wanted it to go.
Afterward, I went straight to the pro shop to call my father and lie down. The dizziness continued, along with a screaming headache, which we thought might be related to heat and a long day of playing. I gulped down Gatorade and ate salty chips, while my father insisted on taking me to the emergency room of the nearest hospital.
A checkup and CT scan showed nothing irregular, so was sent home. I didn't emphasize the burning sensation in my neck and how bad the headache was, but I'm not sure it would have mattered. I was 25 and in excellent shape.
I’d felt dizzy and nauseous for several days, staying in bed most of the time. My father took me to multiple urgent care facilities, where doctors thought maybe I had a virus. Then we visited their family doctor, who was concerned enough to order an MRI. My father was in the room when the neurologist looked at the results. "Oh my God, he had a stroke," the doctor said. "Whoa, how is that possible?" Andrew Sr. said.
Doctors concluded that I’d suffered from an activity-related stroke, most likely from swinging the golf club tearing or damaging the inner lining of an artery, which is called an arterial vertebral dissection, causing a clot to form. The clot expanded until it stifled blood flow to the brain. In this case, doctors determined that because I had survived the stroke and was functioning he should heal naturally. They kept me in the hospital for a week, but I had no surgeries or medication. I continued to be checked every six months for three years, getting a clean bill of health each time. The only lingering symptoms were fatigue and balance issues, which lasted a few years. I also feared a recurrence, though doctors assured me it was a freak occurrence.
After it happened, it took me a while to play golf again. I returned to golf a year later and I remember being scared after swings that it would hurt my neck, but now I'm back to golf at full strength. I stayed at the club for another seven years.
I always thought I would be a head golf professional or a financial planner, the two things I loved. So I gave up the golf course for Wall Street. I'm now an adviser at Morgan Stanley in Manhattan. Not that I'm totally done teaching. I'm always giving two-minute swing tips in the hallways, and everyone wants to go to the driving range with me. These days, I continue to golf for fun, as well as play basketball and tennis, run, and work out at a gym. The difference is I carry my phone on me at all times.
On the plus side, I'm now more empathetic to others' challenges and health issues. I've also become very active in the American Heart Association's Young Professionals Committee in New York City, which works to raise awareness and funds for heart and stroke issues and research. I’m grateful to have the ability to give back to a great cause and have met some amazing people through this organization.