The 'headache' that left her paralysed: The woman who had to learn how to stand again after suffering a stroke at just 22

May 7, 2019  13:10

Elizabeth Kay was busy moving into her new home with help from her dad when she developed a terrible headache.

As time went on, Elizabeth, then 22, from Salford, started to feel even worse, until her legs gave out from underneath her and she fell to the floor.

Elizabeth had had a stroke, leaving her completely paralysed on her entire left side.

"The paramedics could see my face had dropped on one side and my speech was slurred. I just didn’t think it could happen at my age," she said.

Elizabeth was taken straight to Salford Royal Hospital where she underwent an operation to remove the clot from her brain.

She also needed a craniotomy, to reduce pressure by giving her brain room to swell.

"I don’t remember anything at all about the first week in hospital. Although I could speak, my voice was different and I struggled to think of the right words," Elizabeth added.

"My left side was completely paralysed. After intense physiotherapy I learnt how to stand and take a couple of steps.

"The movement in my arm didn’t come back for the first month; in fact, the doctors said there was a chance it may never return. Fortunately, I can now move my arm but my fingers and wrist can’t move properly.”

Now, almost two years after her stroke, Elizabeth, 24, has spoken out about her experience to raise awareness, after the Stroke Association discovered that more than 14 million Brits do not know whereabouts in the body a stroke actually occurs.

A survey by the charity also found that while almost half of the country's adults know someone who has survived a stroke, most don't know how to support them through their recovery. 

“I would say since my stroke, my family and I have learnt together. At first, I found it very hard, as my family wanted to pander to me and do everything for me, just because they love and care for me," added Elizabeth.

"Now we’re in a better routine and they know to wait for me to ask for help. They don’t automatically do things.

"That’s the trickiest part, finding the right balance so that they are being loving and supportive without being overbearing and pushy.”

The charity has published its survey findings to mark the launch of its newest campaign, Rebuilding Lives, which aims to showcase the challenges faced by stroke survivors and those who support them with their recoveries.

The survey also revealed that one in ten people who knew a stroke survivor admitted to seeing them less after their stroke, while one in six said they spent less time with them because they perceived them to be 'not the same person' after a stoke.

More than eight in ten people meanwhile, said they felt that having a greater understanding of what a stroke is would help them better support a survivor.


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