"I'm 34, a qualified body piercer and have two sons who are nine and 13. I'm fairly active despite several surgeries, which I’ve always recovered from.

"I suddenly just couldn't hold the phone."

"On November 27th 2016 I had walked the dogs, had Sunday lunch and spent time with my family. That evening I was on the phone to my 9-year old son and I suddenly just couldn't hold the phone; I thought my partner was winding me up. Then, I couldn't talk or move my left hand. I was shouting and screaming in my head but only slurred words and nonsense came out. My partner immediately knew what was wrong; the TV campaign promoting ‘act FAST’ meant he knew what to do.

"He rang 999 and got me into hospital, which saved my life. Thanks to Hereford Hospital acting so quickly, I am still alive. I had a large hyperdense blood clot in my middle cerebral artery which had caused a massive stroke.

"I spent two weeks in hospital and they dispersed the blood clot but found a hole in my heart which is letting blood to flow from one side to the other, allowing the clots to pass through. Because of this, I may require heart surgery also.

"I find the cognitive issues like aphasia the worst."

"I'm now trying to move on – I’m receiving physiotherapy and the community stroke team are visiting. I'm struggling with left-sided weakness, I can't currently use my left hand, or walk outside unaided. I find the cognitive issues like aphasia the worst; I cannot remember things, find it very hard to concentrate, neuro fatigue plagues my life and I'm seriously low in mood. I've had several tonic-clonic seizures since the stroke and have been hospitalised again. I was told after my stroke the seizures may continue to happen. 

"With the help of the Hereford Community Stroke Team, Different Strokes and Facebook forums I have found others like me. I didn't really drink and I didn't have high blood pressure. I’m proof that strokes can happen to anyone! I’d urge everyone to know the signs.

"The neuro team in Hereford are now responsible for my care and we are waiting for the cardiac team to decide whether it’s the best option to close the hole in my heart. It's amazing that all this has happened in just four months.

"Please educate your family and loved ones to know the signs."

"The speed my partner got me into hospital is the reason I am alive today. It's weird to know I could have easily died that day. I am now under the care of several teams helping me to get better and move forward with recovery. It’s a long road ahead, but with help of my partner Phil and the Community Stroke Team I'll get there."

Lydia