Stroke can affect anyone at any age. Jess was 10 when she had a stroke due to a heart condition in 2006. Now in her twenties, Jess is passionate about raising awareness of childhood stroke and our new childhood stroke support services. Here she tells her story and shares what she’s learned from her experiences:
“I was at home one evening, when suddenly, I felt really strange. I couldn’t stand up or speak. My parents took me to hospital, where they discovered I’d had a stroke.
“My stroke affected my speech, and emotional and mental health. It caused fatigue and I permanently lost the use of my right arm.
“The first couple of years after my stroke were the hardest, trying to rebuild my life with my new needs and disabilities.
“What motivated me was my family, and desperately wanting to go back to school. It was hard for me to make and keep friends due to my aphasia and fatigue. However, it’s easier now, and I have many people who care about me.
“The thing that challenges me the most as an adult is the mental and physical fatigue. Some days I need to be at home doing nothing for the day. But that’s fine. I rest until my mind or body is recharged.
“Despite this, I try to make every day fulfilling. Keeping a job didn’t work out for me, so I volunteer at a youth club and at a learning disability charity. I have a beautiful dog who loves going out for short walks and having her belly rubbed. I love being with my caring boyfriend and seeing my devoted family.
“Having a stroke when you are a child or adolescent is hard. Trying to learn about your stroke and understand your emotions can make you feel like your head is about to explode. It’s scary because you feel like you’re the only young person who has had a stroke. But you’re not alone.
“It’s normal to grieve for your old life, but you’re still that person - you just need to adjust to your needs and possible disabilities.
“Recovery after stroke can be slow and frustrating but be patient and don’t be hard on yourself. Your mind and body are working the best they can to recover. When you get fatigued, you must listen and rest. Your motivation, a good mind-set and a good routine will help. Don’t give up.
“If the Stroke Association’s childhood stroke services existed when I was a child, it would have helped my family and me tremendously. I wish that my family had services too, because a stroke doesn’t affect you only, it affects everyone in your life.
“Now I’m living my new altered life and I’m happy. I am proud of every obstacle I’ve overcome due to my stroke. It has shaped me to be the woman I am today, and I wouldn’t change my life one bit, past and present.”
Find out more
Our Childhood Stroke Support Team provides practical information and emotional support to children and young people affected by stroke, their families and carers, teachers and professionals.
Read more about our services and resources. Or contact our Stroke Helpline on 0303 3033 100.
Stroke News magazine
This article is featured in the summer 2023 edition of our magazine, Stroke News. Subscribe to our future editions available in print, on audio CD, or via email.