Monday, 23 April 2012

Stroke day

So the biggest reason for me starting up this blog is to share my story.

I'm 21.

I had a stroke...

I may as well set the scene.
I was studying English, Drama and Performance Studies at Salford university.  My first year of studying was amazing. I made a whole new group of friends filled with wonderful amazing people.  I enjoyed my classes, did well in all my assignments and was convinced I was going to become a teacher.
Then along came exam time... I've never coped well with exams, they simply fill me with an excess of anxiety and dread.
I completed first year exams, and achieved a very satisfactory 2:1 grade.  I enjoyed the summer that followed, but something wasn't right. I constantly had what felt like an invisible weight on my chest, and I couldn't shake it. I was dreading going back to university, and I was disappointed in myself. I'd loved everything about the first year apart from the exams, so why couldn't I just get on with it and cope like every one else?
On top of this dread, I had the distressing fact that the love of my life was leaving me for 12 months to go and live in another country.  Chris is currently finishing his degree in Spanish and French, and a requirement for the completion of his degree was to spend a year living and working abroad.
So the middle of September came, and I suffered through an extremely tearful goodbye at Liverpool John Lennon airport, and before I knew it I was back on the train to Salford Crescent.
I lasted 6 weeks in my second year of university before it all became far too much for me to cope with.  It was a massive decision choosing to leave my studies, and one I didn't take lightly, but I wasn't happy.
So I spent the first 8 months of 2011 recovering, working, looking forward to my 21st, and deciding what I wanted to pursue next.  Chris came home from his travels in May (earlier than scheduled, as he'd worked something out with his lecturers) and I was finally getting back on track. I was happy... probably happier than I'd been in a long time.
I turned 21 in August of 2011, and my family and friends all joined me in an amazing party with a buffet that will go down in history, according to most of the guests.
I'd finally decided what I wanted to do with my life... something that I'd always wanted to do from being a little girl- hairdressing.  Doing peoples hair has always been a hobby of mine and I've always loved doing it, because I am good at it. I like the satisfaction of making people look good, and their appreciation of my finished work. On nights out I was always the last to get ready because I was too busy helping everyone else out with their beauty requirements.  Hairdressing just made sense.
In September 2011 I started my hairdressing college course and I was loving it.  I was so happy.  This felt right.  There was no dread, no anxiety, no weight on my chest... FINALLY!

It was a Monday night, 17th October, and my friends and I were at a pub quiz.  I was fine.  I had been struggling with a pain in my back for the last week, but other than that I had no complaints.  We didn't win the quiz, but I don't think we did too badly, we were happy to get even a few questions right as some of the answers we'd come up with were hilarious.
It was about 11.45pm when we left the pub, and we had our dramatic farewells in the carpark, knowing we'd be seeing each other in the next couple of days. I drove myself and my friend home, as we live on the same street, shouted, 'Night!' as he slammed the car door, and parked in my usual spot outside my house.  My mum and sister were still awake, and we had our usual conversation on how well the quiz went and how our days had been, and we all went to bed around the same time.

Tuesday 18th October 2011.
I remember waking up and hearing my dad go to work. I couldn't understand why I was awake. My dad leaves for work around 6am every morning, and unlike him I am definitely not an early bird.  I had a slight head ache, and felt a little bit funny... something wasn't quite right.  I went to reach for my phone to check the time; why was I awake?
I couldn't reach for my phone. I couldn't lift my arm. I couldn't lift my leg. I was numb. The whole of my left side was numb.  At first I thought I had pins and needles BIG TIME, because that was the only rational explanation.  I lay there for a minute or two willing for my body to readjust itself and get back to normal, but no feeling or movement was coming back, and fear and panic were starting to set in...
I was in bed on my own.  Chris had had basketball the night before and an early start at uni on the Tuesday morning, so it was only sensible for him to stay at his house that night. In my whole life and in my years to come I don't think I'll ever feel as lonely, vulnerable and helpless as I did in those silent minutes that I lay, motionless in my bed.
Looking back, the seconds that went by seemed like decades, and the panic was escalating. My body wasn't working, and all I could think was, 'Please God, let my voice work...'
With all my might and will, I screamed for my mum.

That was the beginning of a long and hard road ahead.


  1. You are an amazing girl, very loved and sorely missed at Salford, too. It's very brave of you to write this blog Becky, and I'm sure it'll help others as well as yourself. Wishing you the very best In your ongoing recovery. Love Lola xxx

  2. Reading this got me all teary... such a brave girly xx

  3. Wow I just read this, can't believe you are only 21, scares me because I'm young to and you never know what could happen! You must be so brave, hope you are on the way to recovery now! All the best xx

  4. I've only just come across your blog via Twitter but reading this strikes a cord... I'm 20 and had a TIA (small stroke) aged 19, so nowhere near as severe as you, and I made almost a full recovery fairly quickly. I had mine at high altitude in a tent, beyond where a helicopter (the only form of rescue) can reach you. But the lying there motionless and thinking at first it was just because I was lying awkwardly... I can really relate to. Looking forward to reading on through more of your blog. All the best xxx

  5. That was scary just reading it ... you must have been so frightened - your very brave -- off to read some more xx

  6. everytime i read this it makes me cry...

  7. Hi Becky

    I understand exactly what you are going through, when I was 24 I suffered 4 strokes. If you want to compare stories, let me know. BTW, I am almost fully recovered and back working full time enjoying life to the full.

  8. Holy shit, you gave me goosebumps! I am getting tear-eyed reading this. You are strong, girl!

  9. Five years on and I still remember very clearly the first moments of my stroke, falling down, unable to speak, hardly able to move. I'm recovered now just like you will be sooner or later. Keep it up.