Young stroke victim warns of symptoms

By Mary Dennehy

WHEN young mother Trisha Kiernan suffered a stroke at the age of 41 she discovered a serious lack of awareness among members of the public and the medical profession when the condition happens to a younger person – or those that didn’t show the common signs.

Two months ago, Trisha, from Tallaght experienced an excruciating headache that resulted in the mam-of-two visiting A&E and being sent home with headache tablets, after being told her pain was due to a trapped nerve in her neck.

Trish Kiernan 04052017

Trisha’s headache continued into the next week until she collapsed in her mother’s house and an ambulance was called.

“I was walking into my mother’s house and I got this over whelming sense of nausea,” Trisha told The Echo.

“I knew I had to get inside and once I got through the door, the left side of my body went like jelly and I fell to the ground.
“I could speak, but could barely get the words out. I remember telling my sister to get an ambulance.”

When Trisha arrived in hospital she was diagnosed with a migraine and left for 72 hours,as two CT scans came back clear and she wasn’t experiencing the FAST [Face, Arms, Speech, Time] symptoms. 

“I was told that it was a migraine, even though I don’t suffer from migraines, and that it wasn’t a stroke as my speech wasn’t slurred and my face wasn’t drooping,” Trisha said.

“I also didn’t fall into the ‘stereotype’ of someone at risk of a stroke – I was only 41, I don’t drink or smoke and haven’t eaten meat in years.

“I was 37th on the list for an MRI scan, but my sister kept pushing and pushing for me to get the scan, because at that point I was deteriorating – my eyes were becoming more swollen and my arms.”

After the MRI, Trisha was told that she had suffered a stroke caused by a tear in an artery in her neck – which resulted in a clot on her brain.

“Due to my age and no FAST signs, I was left lying in that bed deteriorating,” Trisha said.

“For those 72 hours my brain wasn’t being fed, it was being starved of blood and oxygen . . . I was on my way out.”

She added: “The FAST signs are vital and people need to be aware of them.

“However, they also need to be aware that there are symptoms of a stroke outside of these signs – which I believe should be included in the awareness campaign.

“After my experience I want to raise awareness of the possibility of a stroke at any age and that all symptoms don’t fit the criteria of FAST. I also believe that MRI scans need to be given quicker to patients.”

Trisha has come a long way since her stroke on March 4, with the Ballycullen mam undergoing weekly physiotherapy sessions.

Despite having no sensation on the right-side of her body and problems with her sight, balance and short-term memory, Trisha is taking each day as it comes and remaining positive and detemined about her recovery.

“After a stroke you’re in a very dark and depressing place, but there is hope and everyday while I was in hospital I motivated myself and tried to remain positive,” Trisha said.

“I got up everyday and did exercises by my bed and after three-and-a-half weeks doctors let me go home early.

“I kept a journal and a video blog of my recovery and it’s very real and honest and I hope I can use it to help others locked in that dark place and give them hope – show people that their situation can improve bit by bit, day by day.”

Trisha has encouraged people to visit her Stroke Survivors and Support Facebook page HERE.

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