Erin was just 29 years old when she had a stroke. Her life was suddenly turned upside down and she wondered how this would affect her three children who were aged just seven, five and two. With your help, we were able to provide support through our Community Stroke Advisor service, helping Erin and her family to understand the impacts of stroke and assist through recovery.
Erin was dropping her children off at school one day when she stumbled and fell to the ground. Erin’s husband helped her to her feet, but he knew something serious was wrong as she struggled to hold on to him. “I didn’t feel dizzy or anything, I just couldn’t walk properly,” Erin told us. “I was adamant that everything was ok, and it was just a funny turn.” Erin recalled, “I needed to pick some things up from the shops and that was my main priority at the time! When we got home, things started to get worse. At that point, my husband noticed the signs of a stroke, so took me to hospital.”
A stroke can be identified by understanding the well-known acronym, F.A.S.T. Face – is their face drooping on one side? Arm – is one arm weak? Speech – is it mixed up, slurred or lost? Take action – time is critical, call 111 immediately.
Arriving at hospital, Erin received a CT scan and was told that she may need emergency brain surgery to stop a bleed. They discovered that she had an Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM), which is an entanglement of abnormal blood vessels lodged deep in her brain. One of the weakened blood vessels ruptured and this is what caused Erin to have a stroke.
Recovering in hospital, but desperate to return home to her young children, Erin left hospital without fully understanding the impact of her stroke.
“After two weeks in hospital, I thought that I would be fine, but being back home was more of a challenge than I expected. I was at home for another two weeks, but I wasn’t making any progress.” Erin recalled.
Erin returned to hospital for rehabilitation, which is where she met one of the Stroke Foundation’s Community Stroke Advisors (CSAs), Lynette.
Erin told us, “when we met, I was still trying to wrap my head around the fact that I had experienced a stroke. Lynette helped me to understand that recovery would be a process and she has been there every step of the way.”
The biggest struggle for Erin was that it affected her whole family. She found it difficult not being there for her children when they needed her. “I just wanted to feel like a mum again,” Erin explained.
Lynette provided Erin with advice and resources to make things easier for her family, helping to turn those small steps into something that the children could help with too, making them feel more involved in the recovery process. Erin shared, “I’m just so grateful for the help that I’ve received and for being able to get to this point. Every step is a celebration and I understand now that my recovery will take time.”
Lynette has helped Erin and her family to navigate their way through Erin’s stroke recovery. “I ask Lynette so many questions so that I can help other people understand what a stroke is, that recovery can often be a long journey and that a stroke can affect anyone of any age. I want people to know that by supporting the Stroke Foundation you’re not just helping the elderly, but you’re helping kids, mums, dads and other family members through recovery too. Your support helped me!”
Everyone is affected by stroke differently, but with your support, we can continue to offer services which help people throughout their recovery. Help us on our journey to fight stroke and provide more New Zealanders with the support they need.