“When I was 14 when I had my first stroke. After playing rugby league, I tore an artery in my neck, which caused a Basiler artery stroke. A week later I had a second stroke, this time on my cerebellum.
I woke in the night feeling dizzy and sick. I thought I would be ok, so I went back to bed but when I woke again my arm and leg felt tingly and strange. I managed to get to the bathroom, where I collapsed. I was unable to move one side and unable to talk – it was terrifying! I didn’t know what was happening to me and I couldn’t even tell my family I loved them.
I’ve never been so scared in my life. Luckily my Aunt got help for me and I was rushed to hospital. At the hospital they said if they did not operate then i would die. Those words will stay with me forever.
Initially I made a good recovery and spent 6 weeks in hospital in Leeds, away from my family and friends. However, I was well supported, and I regained all function in my arms and legs and within two weeks I was walking again. I have been left with absences in memory, tics and Tourette’s, Neuro fatigue and learning difficulties – to name just a few! But I feel very lucky and although I still have the partial clot on my brain and suffer with dizziness and headaches daily, I am coping well and nowadays I just take it day by day.
I’ve just gone back to education full-time, which is a struggle, but I have great support in place. I can’t play rugby, but I now run my own charity and help raise awareness of brain injury and strokes in children. I just brought a state of the art sensory station to Hull to help children and adults with vision, reaction times, concentration and much more – it’s an amazing bit of kit! I now accept that I can’t do what I did before my strokes but if I can help others then I’m happy and if my story helps give hope to others than it’s worth me sharing.
I follow Different Strokes on Facebook and often read the inspirational stories and the great advice on their website.
It is memories like those about Christmas I now treasure as life can change so much and in an instant! This Christmas I took selection boxes and colouring books to Hull Royal and Leeds General Children’s neuro wards to make the children in hospital smile at Christmas.
My aims for the future are all about helping others. I would live to work in stroke services or as a neurologist and make a difference to other people’s lives.
My advice for anyone who has recently has a stroke is take things slow, don’t rush recovery and celebrate each step that you take as it’s a step closer to where you want to be and away from where you were yesterday. Stay strong and smile! You can do this.”