I’ve been going back and forth on whether or not I should write this post for a year now. This blog isn’t supposed to dive into anything too deep but rather it is supposed to be a place where we can forget our daily problems and de-stress by having a quick look through pretty pictures, different style and a couple beauty products. This post is the opposite of that. It’s also extremely personal. I have had quite a few readers ask me to fill them in on what exactly happened and if anyone asks me exactly that question in person I will fill them in so I thought it would only be fair to fill you all in too. Today I am going to share my stroke story.
A year ago today I had a stroke. Until then I’m actually not even sure that I knew what a stroke was so let me help you out if you’re in the same boat. A stroke is a brain injury that takes place where there is either bleeding in your brain or a blood clot in a vein/artery in your brain which is starving your brain of oxygen. My stroke was the clot version. The clot was the size of a golfball.
What caused the stroke? This question has been the reason I decided to write this post. If my story can help any of you I have served a purpose in this life. Your blood is made up of many factors, one of mine being Factor V (five) Leiden. It is a clotting factor. I also didn’t know I had it because no one else in my family does. At the time of the stroke I was taking YAZ (ie the pill). This is important: if you have a clotting factor in your blood such as Factor V Leiden and you are taking any pill you are at HIGH RISK of clots causing deep vein thrombosis or strokes. Even more importantly: GP’s don’t check for this before freely dishing out the pill. You are at your own risk. If you ever take any advice from me it would be this: insist on your GP checking you for clotting factors before they give you the pill.
What happened? This day last year I was up at 4.30am as per usual for the gym at 5 am. I had an awesome gym session and headed off for work. I had an 11 am meeting with clients and my boss came to find me right before that to go over a few points when I started speaking gibberish. I then couldn’t figure out how to work my computer and jammed the printer. My boss thought I had a migraine, which I actually did, and had me helped to the sick room where I proceeded to have a seizure. At this point the paramedics were called, I was loaded into an ambulance and rushed into the emergency room. Next, I am told there was a serious frenzy in the emergency room, multiple brain scans, three neurologists, a specialist physician and pulmonologist and a week in ICU. Had the people I work with not acted so quickly I wouldn’t be able to write this today. Had this happened while I was driving I wouldn’t even be here today. I got lucky.
Of all of this, I maybe remember 5% of what happened. My brain turned off the lights. The memory problems continued for a good couple of months. I would just forget what we were talking about halfway through a conversation and I also had no way of remembering that we even had a conversation. I told the same joke to my friends a couple days in a row and, bless their souls, they laughed every time. They brought me books to read in the hospital and it was only then that I realised I couldn’t read. Now that was pretty terrifying! Luckily that came right on its own about a month out of the hospital and I was so grateful when that happened that I read about 5 books in a week. I’ve battled to recall words. “What is that word” became something I said all too frequently. My driver’s licence was suspended and I had to retake a driving test about 6 months down the line. The biggest and most longstanding effect, however, has been fatigue. Mental and physical fatigue. For months upon months, I would become too tired to walk and talk. It still happens now if I don’t monitor it very, very closely. Needless to say, I spent quite a few months in bed. The months after that would go out for 1 hour, then 2, etc. At the moment I’m currently on 5 hours that I’m able to function before I collapse in a heap.
How are you today? I’m still monitored very closely by my specialist who says that I still have another 6 months of recovery ahead of me. I’m taking a ton of medication. I have blood tests done every four weeks. I have Stroke Rehabilitation once a week. I am back to work but not yet able to work a full day. This recovery has taken an extraordinary amount of motivation and I could not have got to this point today had it not been my faith and for all the support, encouragement and outpouring of love from my family, friends, boyfriend, the people I work with, fellow bloggers and readers too (who I’ve possibly left in the dark too long). Just when I feel like I’m ready to give up there has always been that single comment or Tweet that has just lifted my spirits and for that, I have to thank you. I couldn’t have done it without you.
[Update: If you’d like to learn more about the progress I’ve made and my full recovery, click here.]