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Picture of Rachel who survived a Haemorrhagic Stroke at 26

Rachel’s Story – Haemorrhagic Stroke at 26

Picture of Rachel who survived a Haemorrhagic Stroke at 26

I was living a very normal and healthy lifestyle up until  27th of  June 2022 and the time when I had my daughter, via elective C-section. The day before my 27th birthday and two and a bit weeks after having my gorgeous little girl Charlotte, my life changed instantly. I had been having headaches for about week, but I put it down to tiredness and not sleeping well after the birth until that day, Just before it I was adjusting to ‘mum life’ and looking forward to making precious memories with my daughter.

I had taken Charlotte to baby sensory classes with my friend when I had a taken a spasm in my back (it felt like right at the top of my spine) and I lost the power in my right arm. I instantly knew something wasn’t right.

I remember saying to my mum, I couldn’t put my seatbelt on, and that my arm felt funny, like a dead arm. 

My mum had done the F.A.S.T. test, but all was normal. However, two hours later I collapsed in the house and started to have a seizure. My mum immediately phoned for an ambulance, and they arrived in five minutes and then they took me straight to Craigavon Area Hospital where I was rushed into resus.I got a CT scan straight away when I arrived at the hospital. After several more seizures (and scans) later, my family was told I had a blood clot in the brain which was on my left side frontal lobe, which had caused a stroke and several seizures. That Tuesday afternoon my family was then told there was a chance I wouldn’t survive, so I was rushed to the Royal Victoria Belfast, and into ICU. I then woke up on Wednesday to be told, ‘you’ve had a stroke Rachel’ – the words no one wants to hear. I was diagnosed with CVST (cerebral venous sinus thrombosis), which is a rare form of stroke and affects only five in one million people each year.

Cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) occurs when a blood clot forms in the brain’s venous sinuses. This prevents blood from draining out of the brain. As a result, blood cells may break and leak blood into the brain tissues, forming a haemorrhage.

I am now on anticoagulant medication for six months, and epilepsy medication twice a day. Coming to terms with the epilepsy disagnosis, along with adjusting to long-term medication for it was hard, but I am feeling stronger every day, counting my blessings that I’m still here.

It’s affected my moods; that would be the big thing. I still have panic attacks, like it’s going to happen again, which brings me down some days as I feel like I’m on a knife edge, but it’s changed my whole perspective in life and how I look at things!

My advice to my fellow stroke survivors would be to take each day as it comes. Your recovery might be slower or faster than someone else’s but no one can really judge you on that as every person and every stroke is different. What I wish I would have known is the symptoms of stroke and to know that it can happen to anyone – and at any age.

I don’t think there is enough awareness for that stroke can happen to younger people. Everyone thinks it happens to elderly people (me being one of those people, until it happened to me) and I think people need to take into consideration that not all strokes are the same and no two people will have even have the same symptoms! I think there should be more campaigns for younger stroke survivors. 

Don’t let your stroke determine who you are. Trust your gut instinct!! Even if it’s the slightest symptom (like mine was), which was a strange headache the week before, and that no medication takes it away then it’s time to see a doctor! Don’t let anyone fob you off if you know your own body! 

I came across Different Strokes on Instagram. Reading other people’s stories and their experiences  do give me hope for the future. With their help I’m going to continue my recovery and get stronger everyday.

Your donation helps others like Rachel on their journeys

There are 100,000 strokes in the UK each year with 1 in 4 happening to somebody of working age or younger. Different Strokes aims to promote independent stroke recovery and help these younger stroke survivors reclaim their lives.

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