Friday, 27 April 2012

18th October 2011

18th October 2011
Mum came sleepily in to the bedroom unaware of what she was about to see. She asked me what was wrong before turning on my bedroom light, and all I could reply was, ' I can't move.'
As she turned the light on, I could see it in her wide eyes. The colour drained from her cheeks. She climbed on my bed, stroked my face and told me everything was going to be OK. Then she ran from my room to get the house phone to dial 999, and I could hear the panic in her voice as she asked the question, 'What the hell is going on?'
My mums reaction only confirmed my fear.  I burst in to tears and my whole body went in to shock and began to shake uncontrollably. I felt trapped. My mind was working but my body wasn't.
My sister heard the commotion and knowing something was wrong, I heard her wearily ask mum, 'What's wrong with Bec?'
What was wrong? What was happening?
Mum was in overdrive. She was trying to calm me down, telling me everything was going to be OK, while at the same time getting herself out of her pyjamas and into day clothes... It was the fastest quick change I've ever witnessed.
Looking back we laugh at how mum was coping with such a traumatic shock, attempting to tone down the drama of the situation we were faced with, as much as possible.  Really, she was proving quite a quintessential British attitude, as while we were awaiting the arrival of the paramedics, she thought it important to have a quick tidy up of my bedroom...
In no time at all there was a knock at the door, and a strange man dressed in green appeared at my side introducing himself as part of the paramedic team. I was asked question after question. What were my symptoms? Did I have any pain? When did I lose the feeling in my left side? Then he started testing my memory. What was my name, my date of birth, my mum and dads names, where I lived... What was happening?
The paramedics were acting quickly, testing the strength of my left side, assessing the movement and sensation. Not even the professionals could hide their concern of the seriousness of the situation.
Throughout the paramedics testing and assessing, the main paramedic kept looking at my face... 'Not my face,' I thought, 'Please not my face, I'm 21!' He sensitively said to my mum, 'As I don't know Rebecca, I need to rely on you to tell me if the droop in her face is unusual...' It was unusual. The left side of my face had dropped.
An involuntary, exasperated moan left my body. My hysterical crying had turned in to silent sobs... None of this made any sense. Just hours before I was fine.

I was strapped in to a wheel chair and carried down the stairs and out of my house, my mum following close behind, hurriedly throwing instructions at my sister to phone my dad, and meet us at the hospital.
It was cold, and the sun was only just making an appearance. The ambulance was ready for me, engines on and doors wide open. I remember seeing bedroom curtains twitching from all angles of the quiet cul-de-sac I live on, knowing that the curiosity must have been overwhelming.
I was lifted on to the bed in the ambulance and strapped up, my mum sat in the chair right beside me. I'll never forget seeing the doors of the ambulance closing, looking over at mum, and watching the giant tears roll down her cheeks.
Then, the sound of the Ambulance sirens blared...

Monday, 23 April 2012

Stroke day

So the biggest reason for me starting up this blog is to share my story.

I'm 21.

I had a stroke...

I may as well set the scene.
I was studying English, Drama and Performance Studies at Salford university.  My first year of studying was amazing. I made a whole new group of friends filled with wonderful amazing people.  I enjoyed my classes, did well in all my assignments and was convinced I was going to become a teacher.
Then along came exam time... I've never coped well with exams, they simply fill me with an excess of anxiety and dread.
I completed first year exams, and achieved a very satisfactory 2:1 grade.  I enjoyed the summer that followed, but something wasn't right. I constantly had what felt like an invisible weight on my chest, and I couldn't shake it. I was dreading going back to university, and I was disappointed in myself. I'd loved everything about the first year apart from the exams, so why couldn't I just get on with it and cope like every one else?
On top of this dread, I had the distressing fact that the love of my life was leaving me for 12 months to go and live in another country.  Chris is currently finishing his degree in Spanish and French, and a requirement for the completion of his degree was to spend a year living and working abroad.
So the middle of September came, and I suffered through an extremely tearful goodbye at Liverpool John Lennon airport, and before I knew it I was back on the train to Salford Crescent.
I lasted 6 weeks in my second year of university before it all became far too much for me to cope with.  It was a massive decision choosing to leave my studies, and one I didn't take lightly, but I wasn't happy.
So I spent the first 8 months of 2011 recovering, working, looking forward to my 21st, and deciding what I wanted to pursue next.  Chris came home from his travels in May (earlier than scheduled, as he'd worked something out with his lecturers) and I was finally getting back on track. I was happy... probably happier than I'd been in a long time.
I turned 21 in August of 2011, and my family and friends all joined me in an amazing party with a buffet that will go down in history, according to most of the guests.
I'd finally decided what I wanted to do with my life... something that I'd always wanted to do from being a little girl- hairdressing.  Doing peoples hair has always been a hobby of mine and I've always loved doing it, because I am good at it. I like the satisfaction of making people look good, and their appreciation of my finished work. On nights out I was always the last to get ready because I was too busy helping everyone else out with their beauty requirements.  Hairdressing just made sense.
In September 2011 I started my hairdressing college course and I was loving it.  I was so happy.  This felt right.  There was no dread, no anxiety, no weight on my chest... FINALLY!

It was a Monday night, 17th October, and my friends and I were at a pub quiz.  I was fine.  I had been struggling with a pain in my back for the last week, but other than that I had no complaints.  We didn't win the quiz, but I don't think we did too badly, we were happy to get even a few questions right as some of the answers we'd come up with were hilarious.
It was about 11.45pm when we left the pub, and we had our dramatic farewells in the carpark, knowing we'd be seeing each other in the next couple of days. I drove myself and my friend home, as we live on the same street, shouted, 'Night!' as he slammed the car door, and parked in my usual spot outside my house.  My mum and sister were still awake, and we had our usual conversation on how well the quiz went and how our days had been, and we all went to bed around the same time.

Tuesday 18th October 2011.
I remember waking up and hearing my dad go to work. I couldn't understand why I was awake. My dad leaves for work around 6am every morning, and unlike him I am definitely not an early bird.  I had a slight head ache, and felt a little bit funny... something wasn't quite right.  I went to reach for my phone to check the time; why was I awake?
I couldn't reach for my phone. I couldn't lift my arm. I couldn't lift my leg. I was numb. The whole of my left side was numb.  At first I thought I had pins and needles BIG TIME, because that was the only rational explanation.  I lay there for a minute or two willing for my body to readjust itself and get back to normal, but no feeling or movement was coming back, and fear and panic were starting to set in...
I was in bed on my own.  Chris had had basketball the night before and an early start at uni on the Tuesday morning, so it was only sensible for him to stay at his house that night. In my whole life and in my years to come I don't think I'll ever feel as lonely, vulnerable and helpless as I did in those silent minutes that I lay, motionless in my bed.
Looking back, the seconds that went by seemed like decades, and the panic was escalating. My body wasn't working, and all I could think was, 'Please God, let my voice work...'
With all my might and will, I screamed for my mum.

That was the beginning of a long and hard road ahead.

Sunday, 22 April 2012


My intention for this blog, is to use it like an online diary.  Not to spill my most deepest, darkest, private thoughts as such, but the thoughts that are in the more shallow regions of my brain.  I'm generally an open book when it comes to sharing my life with people. I have nothing to hide. And up to now my life has been quite colourful.  The idea that my writing (my life) could help, encourage, support, entertain or surprise even just one other person, makes sitting, and squinting at this laptop exciting and worth while.

So those who read this, bare with me.  At times I may witter on with myself, and in parts what I'm writing may seem pointless, but I'm doing this to share my fights and my victories, in hope of connecting with other young people to share our battles.

First blog post complete, short and sweet. I think you'll be hearing a lot more from me,
Bec xx