Natalie Burns was married with two young children, worked as an IT Manager and was generally fit and healthy when she suffered a stroke in September 2017 at just 37 years of age.
Following her treatment at the Wessex Neurological Centre, she has spent the last year recovering and recently arranged a fundraising evening for Smile4Wessex and the Stroke Association. Here is Natalie's story in her own words.
My stroke was on September 6th 2017 aged 37 years. It was 4 days after hosting my daughters 6th birthday with no indication at all of being unwell. I woke up in the night with pain in my calf that I couldn’t get rid off and felt generally unwell.
That morning I woke up and went down stairs to collect a drink; however, I collapsed on the kitchen floor but with assistance managed to get back upstairs to the bathroom where I lay felling sick and shivering all over. My family knowing I wasn’t well managed to arrange a GP appointment for me later on that day and it was when I went to attend this appointment it went horribly wrong. My sister attempted to take me downstairs but I was unable to walk and I ended up sliding down the stairs on my bottom, on reaching the lounge I was placed on the sofa where I immediately fell off onto the floor and was unable to move or speak; it was at this time my sister dialled 999.
Whilst waiting on the ambulance my eyelid started dropping and I became unable to use my left arm to pull myself up on the sofa or speak any words. Fortunately my sister relayed this information to the ambulance call centre who kept the paramedics on route well informed. Upon arrival the ambulance crew assessed my situation and I was quickly taken to Queen Alexandrea hospital in Portsmouth where I was initially assessed before undergoing my first of many CT scans; this scan confirmed 2 clots within the left hand side of my brain. I was immediately given thrombosis drug to start the process of thinning my blood in an attempt to remove the clot, whilst the decision was taken to transfer me to Southampton General Hospital Wessex Neurological Department to undergo a thrombectomy.
On arrival at Southampton, the neurological team were waiting for me and I was taken straight into the theatre where I underwent a further series of scans before the thrombectomy was carried out to remove one of the clots from my brain leaving the one at the rear of my head in place. The whole procedure took several hours. After the procedure, I lost the majority of my speech and really could only say ‘yes’ and ‘no’ and big words like ambulance, helicopter were extremely difficult to say. This my kids found funny, if only I was laughing!
Whilst in hospital it was discovered that I had a 15cm clot in my leg which is thought to be the cause of the stroke. It was also confirmed that I had a PFO which was the reason the clot was allowed to travel to my brain through the heart. At this stage I am waiting on more test results to find out the options of having the PFO closed or remaining on blood thinning drugs for the rest of my life..
My speech has returned to normal in most circumstances, but does falter when I am tired; which is now quite often. I am trying to listen to my body more to gain a greater understanding of when enough is enough!
Fortunately I have a great support network around me and I’m recovering well. I regard myself as very lucky and thank all the people who helped me that day.