My name is Haylie Dunne and I am 26. I had brain haemorrhage aged just 18 and I then went on to have a mini-stroke five years ago aged 21. Before any of this my life was perfect. I was at college studying 3D design, I had loads of friends and loved going to music festivals. I was just so full of life and potential .
It was 5th November 2010 and I went to my mum’s for dinner and my phone rang. It was a boy that I was seeing at the time. I went upstairs for privacy and laid on the bed with my head back. Suddenly, I felt a pain in the back of my head. I thought that a metal hook on a hanger must have pierced the back of my head! I reached back and started to touch the back of my head, expecting blood. I rubbed and rubbed but there was nothing there, no blood. Nothing. I got off the phone and ran to the bathroom screaming for my mum.
I got to the bathroom and started to be violently sick. My mum called 101, who said it sounded like I was having a migraine and to lie in a dark room. I just kept thinking there was so much pressure in my head it was going to explode. My Mum set me up in the spare room, so I could lie down. As I walked to the room I fell over my brother’s drum kit – talk about adding insult to injury! I drifted in and out of sleep, waking only to be sick.
Over the course of the next 48 hours, we visited A&E four times and each time we were sent home. After two days my local GP did a home visit and he gave me anti-sickness tablets under my gum – I threw up straight away. The Doctor then injected me with an anti-sickness drug in my bum. Before he left he told my Mum that if I was in the same way the following day, to bring me to the their surgery.
The next day came and I was exactly the same, my Mum took me to the GP and I entered his room and slumped straight down on the examination table. He knew something was really wrong and rang the hospital. I was taken to the hospital shortly after. At the hospital they took my blood, ran tests, and asked me lots of questions including if I was pregnant. This is where my memory goes blank. I woke up in a hospital bed that evening. My mum, dad, sister auntie and cousin where all there. The nurses had told them all it was something to do with my brain, but they were not sure what.
They then sent me in an ambulance to The John Radcliffe in Oxford. My auntie came with me in the ambulance and mum and family followed behind. I remember the blue lights flashing and sirens blazing. I had photo-phobia and asked the paramedic to turn them off, which he did. I drifted into a deep sleep. We arrived at The John Radcliffe and I woke up to be greeted by a team of surgeons, neurologists, doctors and nurses who were all waiting for me.
Next thing I knew I was going down for an angiogram with my dad. It was horrific! I kept having scan after scan, whilst connected to tubes, with a cannula in and going downhill steadily. My body later stabilised and the tubes came off.
I was in hospital for two weeks in total. I don’t remember much but I do remember that it was horrible. I was 18 and I should not have been in that hospital. I should have been out with my friends, dancing, living my life.
Recovery was difficult. I had weakness down my left side and my sight was impacted. I have been to physio on and off throughout my recovery, but if I am honest I have never had the motivation to see it through. This has been my biggest struggle and remains that way to this day.
I am in a wheelchair now, but I haven’t always been. My mobility has deteriorated in the 8 years since my haemorrhage. To me being in a wheelchair doesn’t mean anything anymore. You can still do things, have a life, and go places.
I now live independently with my cat, Riley. I love him! He is a gorgeous boy, my company, my everything. For a long time I spent my time thinking that no one else was in the same situation as me – and that I was different and alone and that everyone else was separate to me and that they were…normal. Life now is quiet compared to my life before, but gradually I have adjusted to it.
I first heard about Different Strokes through Headway and I joined the Facebook group and liked to read and reply to other survivors. This week I started volunteering with Different Strokes at their HQ and will be working on their Instagram for them. I am really excited and feel like I have a purpose again!
I have a list of everything I want to achieve in the next 12 months. I want to get out my wheelchair and walk with a stick, I want to apply to the Open University to do a course in Criminology. I want to improve things for myself and have a better quality of life. I am outgoing, loud, and bubbly. I am extroverted andI wasn’t made for sitting in my house on my own. I feel that I need excitement! Sometimes, I don’t want to be around anyone but a lot of the time I crave people and their company.
If I could give any advice to someone who has just had a stroke it would be…DO YOUR PHYSIO! If you leave it too late you end up in the position I am in. It is more difficult to work on these things later on in your recovery than to just stick at it early on.
Lastly, you are not alone and don’t think that you’re different to everyone else because you’re not.
Haylie will be taking over our Instagram profile in the next few weeks. You can follow our account HERE