Alice Breeze Westwood
2020 had already been a bad year for most with COVID-19 taking over our lives, but August 2020 would have been beyond tragic for my family and friends if I had lost my life to a stroke at just aged 27.
I’m one of the lucky ones.
It was a normal morning: I was making my breakfast when I suddenly shouted to my mum that I wasn’t feeling too great. I felt lightheaded and knew something wasn’t quite right, and my mum came into the kitchen and caught me just as I fell. I was lying on the floor shaking; my eyesight was going, everything was a blur and all I could hear was Mum crying and calling my sister to come over.
999 was dialled straight away and it wasn’t long before the ambulance arrived. The room was spinning and I was sweating like crazy. I remember the paramedics speaking to me, but I couldn’t get my words out because my speech was so slurred – no one understood what I was trying to say! On top of all this, I couldn’t stop being sick.
I was taken to the hospital straight away. Unfortunately, as I have a pacemaker, I wasn’t able to have an MRI, so I had a CT scan instead – and nothing showed up! So it as treated as a fit. As visitors came to see me later that day, I was starting to feel a bit brighter, especially as my speech was coming back to me. I had no idea what had caused my ‘fit’, so I thought I’d be sent home soon!
I can’t really tell you what happened next because I can’t remember, but I was told that I fell out of bed in the middle of the night, before falling once again in the bathroom and knocking myself out. I had a nasty gash on my head along with a concussion, so I just ended up sleeping for days!
Everyone thought the worst. I was dazed, my eyes wouldn’t focus, I was looking straight through people, and I just didn’t know where I was. It was a really upsetting time, but two weeks later, I recovered from the head trauma and was finally sent home.
But back at home I still wasn’t feeling great. I was still being sick, my head was unbelievably funky, my balance had gone, my left arm would not stop shaking – something definitely wasn’t right! I managed to ride this out for another two weeks, but then I needed answers. I went to see my GP where it was recommended I should get another head scan, so I headed back to the hospital for a second CT scan.
Later that evening, a doctor came into the room. “Alice,” he said. “The scan has picked something up.”
I sat upright in my bed as the doctor told me they found a clot on my brain. “It’s sitting on the part which controls your balance,” he explained. “It can be treated with medication, but the clot caused you to have a stroke. You absolutely did the right thing coming back here to get it checked out!”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I still can’t believe it, really;, I’m still a little bit in denial about what happened! But let’s fast forward to now.
I’m doing unbelievably well: my head is almost better and I’m so thankful I’m still here! My arm still shakes but I’m slowly getting there. People are telling me I’m inspiring and so strong but I’m just cracking on. It sounds cheesy, but life is short, so don’t take it for granted! I’ve made lots of plans next year and I’m looking to go back to college! I’m only young; I never thought anything like this would happen to me but I’ve got a lot of life yet and I’m going to enjoy it!