Stroke

Jessica - Interview 57

Female
Age at interview: 23
Age at diagnosis: 21

Brief outline: Jessica is 23 years old and had a stroke 2 years ago when she was 21. She has now recovered from this and is no longer receiving rehabilitation treatment.

Background: Jessica is a reflexology student. Her ethnic background is white.

Audio & video

 

Jessica is 23 years old and is studying reflexology. Two years ago, when she was 21 Jessica had a stroke. She was cleaning her car when her leg and arm went numb, she collapsed and although she could hear and process what other people around her were saying she could not respond and she describes how her speech became ‘garbled’. Jessica remembers how when the ambulance arrived they were unsure if she was experiencing a stroke or a panic attack. Once in hospital and after various tests it was confirmed that Jessica had had a stroke. 
 
Before this Jessica had assumed that strokes only happened to older people and so was shocked to find this had happened to her. She felt very upset for days afterwards and it took a while for the diagnosis to sink in. During her recovery Jessica had physiotherapy, occupational and speech therapy. Jessica found the toughest part of her recovery was learning to speak again. She found this very frustrating as she recognised words but could not make sense of them or say them. Jessica describes how she recovered relatively quickly and believes this was because of her youth and the determination she felt.
 
Jessica has also experienced other issues with her health. Before having a stroke she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and after her stroke it was discovered that she also has a condition which makes her blood clot faster. More recently she has been diagnosed with lupus. Jessica describes how she feels frustrated that so much has happened to her in the last two years and how she’s always thought of herself as a healthy person. Jessica believes her stroke was caused by side-effects from the medication she was taking combined with her blood condition. She is now on daily medication to counteract this and prevent another stroke.
 
Having a stroke had impacted on Jessica’s abilities. She occasionally stutters over her words and has become more forgetful, tired and hesitant. When Jessica experiences these effects she explains to people that the reason is because she has had a stroke. Jessica describes how people are often surprised and sometimes suspicious, as they do not realise or believe young people can have strokes. Jessica feels there should be more general awareness that younger people, even babies, can have strokes.
 
Jessica explains how the experience of having a stroke and recovering from this has made her a stronger person. Jessica feels her priorities have changed as she now focuses on the things she enjoys in life and gives the example of the ambition she feels to start a career in reflexology. She describes herself as being more determined and less concerned with trivial things. Jessica is very grateful for her family, friends and boyfriend as she describes how they have been exceptionally supportive throughout.

 

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