In October 2017, aged 30, I suffered a Cerebellum Stroke. I was in my kitchen playing with my new born son when I had what felt like a “head-rush”. I started feeling really dizzy and grabbed the counter-top to try and steady myself, but after 10 seconds it did not go away and I lowered myself to the floor where I started vomiting. My wife rang 999 and they sent an ambulance. The medics checked me over and I was rushed to hospital. At hospital I was diagnosed as suffering from vertigo and was discharged 24 hours later – still feeling dreadful but able to walk (very slowly).
Although I was diagnosed as suffering from extreme vertigo the doctors requested an outpatient MRI a few weeks later. This showed that I had suffered a minor stroke and also showed previous cerebellar infarcts. This came as a massive shock to me and I certainly did not fully digest the diagnosis for a while – I though there must have been a mistake!
I was fortunate not to be left with any lasting physical damage; however, I was still feeling very dizzy. I was advised that I was unable to drive for a month and my life became very difficult trying to raise my new born son (first child) and recover physically and emotionally.
In the 6 months following my stroke I was in hospital almost constantly whilst they conducted test after test to try and find out a bit more about my stroke and fundamentally, the cause. None of the standard tests (blood pressure, diabetes, bloods, heart rhythm, MRA’s [for vascular problems]) turned up anything abnormal. The doctors then started to investigate for any heart issues which identified a PFO between the two upper chambers of the heart – this, whilst being fairly common, can allow blood clots to pass through the heart and up to the smaller blood vessels in the brain.
Finally having a ‘cause’ gave me great relief and I was scheduled for a PFO closure. I had the operation in June 2018 and have recovered exceptionally well – running after a couple of weeks and playing contact sports within a month.
I am feeling stronger (emotionally) every day but have found the previous nine or then months very, very difficult. I have gradually started to feel less dizzy (although there have certainly been bumps in my recovery). I have found the uncertainty of the whole situation the most difficult thing; the diagnosis, the cause, the recovery, the operation, the risk of recurrence. I spent hours researching anything I could find even vaguely related to my situation to try and get some comfort, this, however only made things worse – suffering serious anxiety.
Because my stroke was ‘minor’ I was unable to find any comparable stories and I feel that this would have been very helpful for me – and for this reason I wanted to share my story and offer my support to anyone who would like to discuss my and their situations.
If want to speak to another survivor for the initial and often vital identification and the knowledge that you are not alone call Different Strokes on 0345 130 7172 or 01908 317 618 and ask to speak to another survivor! If there isn’t one available just leave a message and request a call back from another survivor.