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"When you're young you don't assume you're having a stroke"

Updated: Mar 18

Earlier this year, I had the honor of hearing Jessie's story. Jessie experienced a stroke at age 21 in the midst of her university course but decided to persevere through it and graduate anyway.


Jessie was back at home for Christmas during her final year of university. While at her boyfriends house she started to feel dizzy, started fainting, and had a bad headache but it was when she tried to stand up, but couldn't, she realised that something was really wrong. Jessie went to the hospital the next day and was sent for an urgent CT scan. Soon after, two doctors and nurses walked into the room to inform Jessie that she had experienced a stroke. This was a massive shock as "when you're young you don't assume you're having a stroke"' and the typical stroke symptoms that we're always told about weren't there.

Following her stroke, Jessie experienced multiple challenges. Firstly, Jessie had loss most of her vision and could only see out the bottom of her left eye. Thankfully her vision restored on its own after a week, but was frightening for her. Jessie also lost the full ability to walk and had to undergo weekly physiotherapy to retrain her brain how to do this again. After a lot of perseverance, Jessie was able to walk without assistance again after 8 weeks. One symptom that Jessie was shocked by was the fatigue. She would constantly feel exhausted after doing anything. Jessie expressed that it was important for her to be able to say no to things during this time and put herself and her health first.

Jessie reported that there was some impact on her hobbies. For example, she wasn't able to exercise and the fatigue would impact her ability to carry out her normal routine, such as going on walks and seeing her friends. Jessie mentioned that she was constantly anxious about doing anything that would raise her heart rate too much. She was also worried about not knowing if she would recover. Despite this, Jessie remained positive throughout her recovery and has put a lot of this down to her support network, mentioning that her family and partner were amazing and always there for her when she needed.

Amazingly, Jessie decided to complete her medical biochemistry degree regardless of the stroke. She stated that she took a month out to think about what she would like to do, but felt like it would impact her mental health more so if she didn't have something to occupy herself with. Thankfully, the university was supportive, allowing her to complete her course online and would check in on her wellbeing often. While this was a difficult time, Jessie said she would not have changed it and was happy with her decision to continue with the degree.

Jessie is now dedicated to raising awareness of stroke, especially in young people and those who may not have experienced the typical FAST symptoms like herself. She also wants to share her story to give people hope that you can recover and feel better again. Jessie has published some articles in newspapers to help spread this awareness and encourage people to reach out to medical professionals if something is not right.

A year later, Jessie is now enjoying working in medical communications. Working in the science industry was always something she wanted to do, but seeing the other side to healthcare confirmed this to her.


It was such a pleasure to speak with Jessie. Her story really highlights how important it is to have a good support system and the right people around you while recovering from stroke. Many research studies support this, stating that a good support network is strongly associated with better patient outcomes both physically and mentally.

Thank you Jessie.

Written by Grace James MSc.

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