Having a stroke at 28 threw Deya’s life and future into disarray.
“I was married, we’d just bought our house, and everything was falling into place with work,” says Deya. “Then, in June 2012, I had the stroke.
“In the ambulance I started thinking about how my husband and I wanted to start a family. I thought, ‘I’m too young to die’.”
Deya had a brain bleed that caused left-sided weakness and limited movement in her left hand. She spent three months in hospital receiving physiotherapy. But it wasn’t until she returned home that the emotional impact of the stroke hit her.
“When I got home, reality sunk in. I couldn’t go up the stairs properly. Everything took time, like having a shower or putting on clothes. The day-to-day things you’d normally do with ease, I couldn’t do. It brought me down.
“I didn’t want to move back in with family because we’d just bought our house. That motivated me to learn to do things without any help. I didn’t want to give up.”
When Deya found out she was pregnant with her first son, she was elated but anxious about how she’d cope.
“I’d think about things like how I was going to do nappies with one hand. But I was determined to find ways to adapt.
“When my son arrived, I managed to do most things. But there were times I felt very self-conscious. I used to avoid going to baby classes. I couldn’t do activities like lifting the babies up while singing songs. It was heartbreaking and isolating.”
Nevertheless, Deya continued to find alternative ways to stay independent. By the time her second son was born in 2018, she’d developed many methods to do daily tasks herself. She even got back to driving with a specially adapted car.
During the pandemic, all Deya had been through with her stroke started to impact her mental health. Her GP referred her for counselling.
“Speaking to a counsellor about my stroke is the best thing I’ve done. It’s like I’d been grieving for what I’d lost. It really helped me.
“I still have days where it’s hard not to compare how it was in a past life, but it’s about managing what you are capable of doing.”
Deya’s now helping to raise awareness that strokes can happen at any age. “When I had my stroke, there weren’t many young people speaking out about it. So I just felt alone.
“It can feel like the end of the world, but with the right support and people to talk to you can get through it. If you have had a stroke, please accept any help that is offered. There is life after stroke.”
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Stroke News magazine
This article is featured in the winter 2023 edition of our magazine, Stroke News. Subscribe to our future editions available in print, on audio CD, or via email.