“I had my first stroke in 2009 aged 29 I had been poorly for a while but nobody knew why. At the time, I was working as a drug dispenser in a well-known high-street pharmacy. I had a lot of time off and was undergoing lots of tests. I was struggling to breath, but all my results were coming back as normal. I was eventually sent for an echo and found out I had a hole in the heart, I was told I should be fine.
On April 11th, 2009, I was feeling unwell so a friend came around to my house to keep me company, Luckily, my daughter was at my mums. I felt so ill it was like I was paralyzed; my friend rang an ambulance. My friend was a little tipsy so when the paramedics arrived they asked if I was drunk, I explained that I hadn’t touched any alcohol as I had felt unwell- they didn’t believe me, but, with my friend’s insistence they eventually took me to Hospital.
From there it was pretty much a blur, I remember having tests and then eventually I was told that I had a stroke. They thought this was caused by a clot that had travelled from my leg through the hole in my heart and into my brain. I felt lost to be honest, I was a single mum my daughter was not even 2 and I didn’t know what the future would hold.
I was in hospital for a couple of months while waiting for a space in rehab, in those two months I had a lot of tests and they found I had lots of holes in my heart, which resulted in me having open heart surgery in the September of the same year. My experience of rehab was probably the worst experience of my life; the physio and Occupational Therapist were fabulous however the nursing staff (especially in the evening) were awful. This led me to discharge myself, I left on crutches and recovered myself. I still had some mobility issues but my real problem was my memory. During those months, I found out who my friends and family really were. I was heartbroken as my daughter had forgotten me; my mum couldn’t bring her to visit.
After my first stroke, I entered into a civil partnership with my partner Hayley and we had son. My story doesn’t end there, it was in May 2013 my son was 8 weeks old and I started to feel unwell. I was upset as one of our ducks had gone missing and I didn’t want to tell our daughter, suddenly, I had the worst pain in my head and I couldn’t put my chin to my chest, I knew it couldn’t be a good thing.
I got my partner Hayley to call an ambulance, she said I was probably just stressed; but she called an ambulance anyway.
In hospital, they started pumping me with antibiotics; they suspected I had meningitis. I had a lumbar puncture and I was scared but felt I was in the safest place. I had the lumbar puncture and didn’t hear anything for a while, so I assumed I was ok. I was later told they had picked up a bleed on my brain and that I would be transferred to Oxford. I was in shock, I called Hayley to say what was going on and to tell the kids that I loved them, I honestly thought I was going to die. I spent a week in oxford and during that week it was my little girls 6th birthday- she chose to save some presents and brought them to the hospital to open with me.
Recovery was painful as the blood evaporated through my spine. Thankfully, none of my mobility issues were made worse from the bleed. This time round it gave me a new lease of life, I wanted to do something to make my kids proud. I started a photography business doing mobile photography and in April 2014 I opened my own studio, which had been going from strength to strength.
Unfortunately, in March this year I had another stroke; this time caused by high cholesterol (hereditary not bad diet) so after another week in hospital I came home with my left side impeded. This time around I feel let down by the system I am extremely depressed as I am stuck in the house most of the time, I can’t do things I used to be able to do with the kids. My moods are so up and down and I push people away at times.
We moved into this house 3 months before the stroke with the hope of doing the garden up but since the stroke I have had to give up my studio so I have no income or passion. All our outdoor equipment is indoors as we can’t afford a shed so the house is so cluttered making it hard for me to get around, I am also sleeping on the sofa due to not being able to get up the stairs. I feel a shadow of my former self and I can’t see a way out of it. I used to take my camera everywhere and take pictures, but now I can’t, I feel i am not good enough.
I was told about Different Strokes through the Stroke Association as I emailed them explaining I couldn’t get to groups and they suggest I join their online support group. people have been helpful, but I still feel alone. I wish to share my story as I feel it may help me, life is difficult at the moment and I just want to be able to do more; even it’s just getting out in the garden with the kids.”
If you want to know the way’s we can support you following a stroke, contact us today by clicking here