Stroke awareness

I just heard that Luke Perry has had a stroke.

I’m upset. I have loved Luke Perry aka Dylan from Beverly Hills 90210 with all my teenage heart, for many years.

It’s also brought home that it can hit anyone, at any time, especially when you are unlucky and have a hemorrhagic stroke (eg a bleed on the brain) rather than an ischemic one (a clot, which is what I had); apparently the “better one to have” as a bleed can potentially cause much more damage.

Not to scaremonger, just to say that you don’t necessarily need to tick the typical stroke boxes like obesity or being a smoker, it can also happen to very fit people, children etc, it’s often just one of those things that you have no control over (so go and enjoy yourselves, ha!)

Not sure which one Luke suffered, but poor guy. I vividly remember how I felt the first few days after my stroke. Disoriented, shocked, blurry, confused, and totally terrified.

The hardest thing was to tell people, I was scared of their reaction and hated causing them pain and worry. Especially Andrew and my parents. Luckily the A&E nurse told Andrew but I had to tell my parents. I just broke down crying on the phone, and so did they.

On the positive side, what Luke Perry’s stroke will probably do is give the condition a little bit of publicity, which is a shame for Luke but a good thing for stroke awareness.

In case you guys don’t know or forgot, it’s the FAST rule (Face/ Arm/Speech/Time for 999). If any of the above apply, like you can’t smile or stick your tongue out, speech is blurred or you can’t raise your arm or leg, make your way to A&E pronto. Or if you notice it in someone else, don’t hesitate and call an ambo. Even if it turns out not to be a stroke, they will never make you feel like a time waster, and time is definitely of the essence here. You only have a very small window to treat a stroke efficiently, so don’t hesitate to seek help.

In my case it was “only” a dead leg and heavy arm but even a small funny turn can mean a TIA (transient ischemic attack, or mini stroke) which is basically when the clot does not block a blood vessel and does not cut off oxygen to the brain and tissue stays intact. Often a TIA can be a warning sign though for worse to come, so don’t dismiss stuff like double vision or sudden vertigo.

Disclaimer here, I ain’t no doctor, and can only speak from personal experience and what I’ve learned in my own research and conversations with my GP/ stroke consultant, so don’t panic and become a hypochondriac like me 🙈 but it’s always good to be aware of FAST.

Personally, I cannot thank the universe enough to have only had a minor stroke (not to be confused with mini stroke ☝️, I had an actual infarction) . I don’t know how people cope with major strokes…. I guess they just do, you’ve got no choice really have you but to keep plodding on.

4.5 months of plodding on and I have got VERY minor motor issues (heavy, sometimes shaky limbs and a crampy foot), and some residual neurological problems with vision, vertigo and fatigue (shame it’s not Vatigue, what a nice alliteration this would have made).

Some days I totally forget I had a stroke and catch myself thinking “should I not be more ill or in a wheelchair or something”, but then I remind myself of what the consultant said – now, forget it happened and live your life”.

This is great advice, although I can’t and don’t want to forget what happened as it’s now part of my life story, but it has truly changed me for the better. I think and I hope I’m a better person.

Thank you Strokey Stroke.

And Get Well Soon, Luke and all the other stroke survivors out there.

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