Stroke survivor at the age of 26: this is my story

Toy ambulance

I’ve been writing blogs about my brain damage some time now, but never in English. I know there are many more young stroke survivors around the world. So I thought it was about time to blog in English too when it’s about my brain damage. My English is ok, but for some words I need Google. Because of that I may not always find the right words, so please correct me if I’m wrong or should use a different word.

Dizzyness

I was 25 when I started feeling dizzy. At first it was just once in a while, but later on it happened at least once a day that the world started turning and everything went black for a moment. I went to the doctor and she heard a heart murmur. I found out I was born with a heart condition. The cardiologist told me that couldn’t cause the dizzyness (yet) though. I kept feeling dizzy so back to the doctor. This time she send me to the otorhinolaryngologist. After he checked my balancing organ he said there was nothing wrong with that. He also said it wasn’t caused by my brain either. “Dizzyness could be caused by so many different reasons. Many times we never find out what does cause it.” No referral to a neurologist, so no scan, nothing. I just had to live with it.

The status update I put on Facebook before my stroke

I couldn’t get up

November 21 of 2009, at the age of 26, I went for my morning run. I took my 2 year old in the stroller. After about 10 minutes I was suddenly on the other side of the road, lying in the muddy grass. The stroller, with my son still in it, on its side. Thank god my son was fine, I just couldn’t get him up. I couldn’t get myself up. I thought it was because of the mud. Had no idea what just happened. Soon I was surrounded by people to help me. I told them I probably got tired suddenly and I would walk home after they helped me get up.

One man told me I wouldn’t be able to stand up. I still had no idea what was going on and felt fine so I thought I would be able to stand up. He was right though. He then said he’d call 112 (emergency number) because my mouth was drooping. I knew what that meant so I told him that couldn’t be possible, I was only 26. (Afterwards the neurologist told me that man was a vascular specialist and it was his house I fell in front of. Must have had an angel on my shoulder 👼)

The neurologist started a second thrombolysis

But it was possible. I was rushed into the hospital where a CT scan confirmed it was indeed a ischemic stroke. I got thrombolysis and the strength on my left side returned. Not for long though as I lost all strength of my left side again right after the neurologist told me and my family how lucky I was. The neurologist started a second thrombolysis. That was very tricky, the chance of internal bleeding was quit big. That was probably my only chance at that moment though. In the meantime I was rushed to a specialized hospital. By the time we arrived at that hospital most of my strength seemed to have returned and I was doing ok. That second thrombolysis saved me.

I thought I had recovered completely

For only 4 days I had to stay in the Stroke Unit before I was discharged. I thought that was it. Thought I had recovered completely. Boy, was I wrong. At home I found out that my strength might have returned, but that didn’t mean there wasn’t any disability left. They just weren’t visible. But I’ll tell more about that in the next blog 😉

Read more about young stroke at YoungStroke.org.
Want to read my story in Dutch? Click the link below or here.
Lees je mijn verhaal liever in het Nederlands? Klik op de link hieronder of hier.

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