I am currently 29 years old, and I am a stroke survivor. I never thought I’d be saying that or that I even could be saying that at such a young age, but here I am. My stroke happened on June 27, 2016; I was just 27 years old at the time.
For about 12 weeks before, I was experiencing excruciating head and neck pain. I saw four doctors during that time. They told me I was fine and I didn’t need further treatment. I had no other symptoms.
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As time went on, the pain started interfering with my job. I am a pharmacist at a hospital. I would either leave work early or call in sick to work, which was very unlike me.
Then on Monday, June 27, I woke up with extreme vertigo. Vertigo is often described as dizziness, feeling off balance, and a sensation of spinning. It is frequently accompanied by nausea. Within an hour or two, the vertigo improved, and I was able to shower and go about my day.
Early that afternoon, I went to a homewares store at a local outdoor shopping centre. As I approached the mall, my right foot fell asleep. I thought the timing was odd because I had never experienced my right foot falling asleep while actually driving. At that time, the educated pharmacist in me briefly thought, “Headaches, vertigo, foot numbness; am I having a stroke?” I thought, “No, it’s not possible; I’m only 27.”
When I was done at the store, I went to checkout. The woman at the counter stated, “Are you done? I can help you over here.” The words sounded so jumbled. Difficulty comprehending speech is often another symptom of stroke, so by this point, I was even more sure I might be having a stroke. However, I truly felt as if the woman had misspoken and I had heard the words correctly; I had never heard anyone describe this symptom exactly like this. Given this and my age, I convinced myself not to tell the woman I may need help.
I left the store and as I stepped down from the sidewalk to the parking lot, I almost lost my balance and fell. I was more sure that something was wrong. I planned on going back to my car and calling the ambulance. I got in my car, turned it on, and put my seatbelt on, out of habit. I turned the air conditioning on because it was 35 degrees outside. By this time, my whole right side felt numb, I could tell I had a facial droop, and my vision was very blurry. I was 100 per cent positive my suspicions were correct; I was indeed having a stroke. I immediately looked at the clock to see what time it was.