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My Story by Charlotte-Anne


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On the 28th March 2010 I was at my boyfriends and I suddenly felt really strange. My hands had pins and needles in and I had a strange headache, like no headache I had felt before. Apparently I then had a fit. When I came round I remember sweating and then I was sick loads, so my boyfriend took me to the hospital.

There I continued to be sick and my head was still throbbing, I have never felt a headache like it. I remember thinking, 'I'm dying' but it felt so surreal. The last thing I remember is being taken into a consultation room and sitting on a bed. Apparently I had another fit, and when I was hooked up to the heart monitor, my heart rate had dropped to around 40.

The doctor tried to send me home saying I had a migraine! Personally I’ve never heard of having a fit when you just have a migraine. Luckily my boyfriend argued this point and they gave me a CT scan in which they discovered I had a SAH. So I was rushed to Oxford hospital where I was operated on in the early hours of the morning and was in intensive care on life support. The doctors told my parents if I was lucky to survive the night I would have an operation 2 days later to clip the artery.

On the Tuesday I had the operation to repair the damage, and remained in intensive care for a further 7 days. I went to HDU for a further 10 days where they made me walk and eat for the first time in 3 weeks as I had lost a stone and a half. I remember nothing.

I then got transferred to my local hospital on the stroke unit and was surrounded by 80 year olds which was difficult being 21. This is when my short term memory started to come back.

I was home within a week and my short time memory got better everyday but it took months before I realised how serious it had been. I had my good days and my bad days and slept an awful lot, between taking painkillers every 4 hours for headaches. I got a rush to the head every time I stood up. I suffered with bad anxiety and the sight in my left eye was impaired, I had a haemorrhage in my eye which was causing my vision to be blurred, I was partially blind but slowly over time it has corrected itself. Being so young my friends struggled to understand what i was going through, I looked ok so what was the problem.

In November, 8 months after my SAH, things started to look up. I got my driving licence back, and returned to work part time. It felt like I was finally putting everything behind me. Until one snowy day in late November when my legs started to feel heavy. I though it was the weather which had turned cold due to the snow. But a week later they seemed to be getting heavier and people were commenting on my walking. I couldn’t understand how this could possibly have anything to do with my SAH, but my mother insisted on taking me back to the John Radcliffe.

After hours in A&E I was seen by a doctor who examined me thoroughly. He stuck a needle into my stomach, legs & arms. The only time I could feel it was in my arms. Panic rose within the room and I was sent for a CT & MRI scan. After staying over night I was greeted at 8am by four surgeons who after examining my scans, explained that the bleeding from my SAH had scarred my spine, which had now reacted and was pressing on my spine, causing my walking to be effected. I would need a laminectomy to remove part of my spine to create more room for the scaring.

So on my 22nd birthday I had the laminectomy on my cervical spine. Sitting up the next day was agony, but within a week I was more than ready to come home. My walking was still a little slow but the doctors were happy for me to return home for Christmas. Nothing could have prepared me for what was to come.

I was put on steroids so Christmas was spent eating much more than usual! I was waking in the night just to eat. However, over the next few days my walking deteriorated and i returned to John Radcliffe once more for another MRI. The first operation had been successful, however more work was needed. So on January 4th 2011 I had another spinal operation.

It’s been 3 months now and I have to walk with a frame, I can't walk far and its hard work. I don’t know what the end result will be and right now everyday is a struggle. Fingers crossed this week I am going to stay at a rehabilitation centre for intense physio.

I'm sorry this is so long; my story is not a simple case of a SAH.

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