Stroke survivor stories - Jessica Thåström

The stories of stroke survivors are what drives our fight at the World Stroke Organization to achieve our goal of a world free from stroke. Welcome to our Stroke Survivor Stories series, which we'll pop up on the blog every Thursday, you may wish to contribute to this poignant narrative of stroke globally. Please contact Sarah.Belson@stroke.org.uk

 
Where were you when you had your stroke?  
My stroke survival story is somewhat prolonged, way more than it should have been allowed to be. 3 days after my sixteenth birthday I laid in bed listening to music in my headphones when suddenly my head exploded with a monstrous pain. But I wasn't paralyzed right away. I was only 16 so I thought it was a migraine and took an aspirin. But the pain kept on going like a intense roller coaster of torture for twenty four hours a day.

Could you access hospital?
I reached out for help but the health care system waved me off and said I was stressed... I wasn't stressed, less than 2 weeks into my 10th grade. September 11th 2007, 27 days after my head exploded, I woke up in my bed ready for school - but suddenly I couldn't move my left arm. I had a stroke during my sleep. Soon after that the ambulance rushed me to the hospital where they could see I had had both an ischemic stroke and a cerebral hemorrhage. I was hospitalized for 86 days.

What expectations did you have for your treatment, rehabilitation, therapy and recovery?
The first month is almost blacked out and the others was brutally traumatizing. I was blue-eyed and persuaded that I magically would become myself again. But I never did.

What was your experience of treatment and/or rehabilitation and therapy?
The hospital staff were horrible and didn't know shit about how to treat a teenage stroke survivor. The whole thing was chaos.

What has helped you in your recovery?
I felt my future was shattered before it even had a chance to begin, and so I slipped into a deep depression that lasted for 9 years. The hospitalization caused me Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and I've been in therapy for a long time. The only thing that has helped my recovery is Conductive pedagogy, and my love for the Buddhist Community. I've manage to publish a book about my story (childhood dream was to become a professional dancer OR an author). I've also managed to overcome my social shyness and make public lectures about my story and stroke in general. It wasn’t until 5 years after my stroke that I realized the importance of quality of life and inner peace even though I have stroke. The health care system seem to want me to stay in my PJ's and live within their walls. I want to dress up, be beautiful, laugh, party and make personal progress a success so that I can celebrate my stroke anniversary and not remember September 11th as a sad day.

What have been/are your fears?
My biggest fear was to never be able to dance again and I was also afraid of being isolated from the world since I was now SICK. I learned to walk with a cane after 3 months and I need it to this day. I still cannot dance. 

How did your family and friends feel and respond?
My friends turned their backs on me and my family was panicking and brought even more chaos into my already chaotic world. I had no support from anyone, left alone in a pile of limbs refusing my commands. I was also left with invisible disabilities such as severe fatigue.


Stroke survivor stories - Jessica Thåström Reviewed by Carmen Lahiff-Jenkins on Thursday, November 03, 2016 Rating: 5

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