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“There is a huge stigma against young people having strokes”

“The amount of people that said to me that only old people have strokes, it’s unbelievable.”

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Jade Kenny was just 21-years-old and a young mother to two-year-old Kai when she suffered a stroke, here she shares her story with SR Times.

SRT: “Could you tell us what life was like pre-stroke?”

JK: “Before I had my stroke, I was a very busy person, looking after my two year old son Kai. I used to walk him to nursery, we would go to Soft plays and parks. In between that, I was looking at going back to study to become a vet, I had always wanted to become a vet since I was in nursery.”

“What can you remember about your stroke? Can you remember any of the feelings?”

JK: “I don’t remember much about my stroke to be honest, I was at Costco with my friend and my ex, We got a pizza to go home with, we got into my flat and I went to reheat the pizza and I felt really dizzy, I dropped the plate and pizza, so I sat down, but as soon as I went to sit down I blacked out and I turned grey. 

“I couldn’t communicate with my friend or my wee boys dad. Then my ex phoned for an ambulance and called my mum. Ambulance services eventually found my flat, and told my ex it can’t be a stroke, she’s too young plus her blood pressure isn’t sky high.

“I found out I took a stroke due to a hole in my heart that went undetected for 21 years , plus the contraceptive pill Ridgevon, both together caused my stroke.”

What was your recovery process like and what were your immediate feelings after your stroke?

JK: “My recovery process was very hard. I didn’t understand what had happened for long time, depression hit and I didn’t want to do any exercises. I Just slept the days away, until I got myself on antidepressants, then I had that boost and started doing physio.

“I also did a four week course of very intense physio alongside BOTOX in my calf with PDRU at the Queen Elizabeth hospital who are absolutely angels, the girls helped me so much. I cannot thank all the staff enough, I had to stay in hospital all together just under 2 months, all I wanted was my own bed and to do things with my wee boy but I couldn’t.

“I couldn’t walk, talk, use my hand or right arm. Completely paralysed down the right hand side. I’m right handed so that was very hard to get used to do everything with my left arm. I was due to sit my driving test but couldn’t.

“I had to celebrate my 22nd birthday in hospital and couldn’t even talk, or open presents or even hold my little boy.

“It is all about repetition, constantly repeating yourself but it does work. It is now 5 years since my stroke and I can’t walk properly, can’t fully use my hand ,writing still a work in progress, but I can do things with my little boy which is the main thing, I’m still alive and living to see my boy grow up.”

“What are the challenges of being a parent after stroke?”

JK: “Being a parent after stroke was very hard, my mum stepped up and helped me, alongside the nursery who were absolutely great with Kai & my family. 

“Kai was also so young he didn’t understand what was happening, why I had to stay in hospital when visits were over, I would honestly cry for hours leaving him. Over the years he’s starting to understand, for example, that his mum can’t run after him. My boy is left handed so we have been learning together how to write with our left hands.

“How has stroke affected your everyday life?”

JK: “I’m still waiting on a disability house 5 years on, which is ridiculous considering what’s happened to me and that I have fell down my close stairs three times, I’m two floors up, but that’s the council for you, they couldn’t care.

“5 years on, and I have my drivers license, I use a lollipop hand control and left foot braking alongside an automatic car. I work as receptionist at my local vet (East end vets)and I thank the owner for giving me that position it’s helped me so much.

“I have a great partner who understands about my stroke, and always helps with things I can’t do, like opening bottles and carrying shopping, alongside just being there for me. He’s been my rock.“

“After your personal experience, do you think there is a stigma towards young people and stroke?”

JK: “There is a big stigma, a huge stigma against young people having strokes, the amount of people that said to me that only old people have strokes, it’s unbelievable.

“Sorry but anyone can have a stroke. It happened to me and I honestly thought old people only had strokes.

“Now I know anyone can have a stroke. It’s a slow process, but it does get better, the world wasn’t built in a day.”

Charity Different Strokes helps younger stroke survivors like Jade. To find out more about them click here, or listen to our podcast episode with CEO Austin Willett here.

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