Life after suffering a stroke

Five years ago Jason was 17 and studying for his A-levels, when his world was turned upside down. Reflecting on World Stroke Day, he shares his personal experience and talks about the support that has helped him to rebuild his life:

I was at college and started to feel poorly so I told my tutor that I needed to go home.

I asked if he could do some notes for me so I’d be able to catch up. Little was I to know then that I wouldn’t be going back.

All can I remember was experiencing this horrible head pain and just wanting to go to sleep. When I got home I was bedridden and couldn’t stop vomiting. My family were really concerned and my sister took me to A&E.

The nurse told me I’d been there for a while and that I’d had a bleed on the brain. I didn’t lose consciousness, I just couldn’t remember anything.

I spent a month in hospital. Originally, I was misdiagnosed with viral meningitis, probably because the symptoms were very similar and I had to go undergo a spinal tap. However, a CT scan revealed that I’d had a bleed on the brain.

I was rushed to Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield for specialist treatment. My parents were terrified; they knew there was a good chance I could die. My mum told me it was like a nightmare.

When I got to the hospital, I had more tests. I wasn’t eating and so hospital staff were treating me for anorexia because I wasn’t able to hold any food down. I wasn’t aware of my surroundings and felt really confused. Eventually, I remember looking in the mirror and it was scary to see how much weight I’d lost. I couldn’t understand what I’d gone through.

The effects of my stroke changed my life and my personality. I now have short term memory loss and my stroke left me with depression, which was pretty devastating. I was so angry at the whole situation, thinking: ‘Why did it have to happen to me, what happens now?’

I was in a lot of fear about having another stroke. My personality changed; I’d lash out at people for no reason and I had really violent headaches.

When I was discharged from hospital, I was bedridden for about three months. I was supported by an occupational therapist to help me regain my confidence and set goals for me to live independently. She visited every week for about six months. It was tough because she really challenged me but I’m really grateful for her pushing me.

I’m also really thankful for the support I got at the Stroke Association’s Stroke Recovery Service in Derbyshire, which helped me rebuild my life after my stroke.

The Stroke Association were so helpful. They gave me an opportunity to do some voluntary work at a creative music studio to help me regain my independence and build my confidence back up. I write my own songs and I’m a really creative person so this was the perfect opportunity for me. I would 100% recommend the Stroke Association to anyone looking for information or support.

Today, I’m still volunteering at the studio, and now I’m now feeling more independent and getting myself back to where I was. I still have my bad days but I’m a lot calmer now. I’m not in a rush to prove anything to anyone.

I’m gradually rebuilding my life, reconnecting socially with my friends and I’m hopeful that one day I’ll be able to go back to college.

The Stroke Association has a range of support services and groups available to anyone affected by stroke, as well as an online support tool – My Stroke Guide and dedicated helpline.

Jason Hanrahan

Jason Hanrahan is an ambitious song writer and musician. He writes songs about personal experiences and life in general. He enjoys doing this because it gives him a way to express his emotions.

Jason is also a stroke survivor.