A family's experience of stroke

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Beth Browning had her stroke at age 19. Her family and friends share their stories of how it impacted them.

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Nichola's story (mum)

The night our daughter had her stroke will be forever remembered as a night of shock as I looked in her eyes and all I could see was complete fear and emotion. She had lost her ability to find and express her words and speak to us in a way that made any sense at all. She could answer our questions and we were able to do the FAST assessment.

My nursing experience came to be a lifesaver that night and her understanding as a student nurse meant we were both terrified but knew what needed to happen. I wasn’t thinking stroke at first as I knew from experience there could be many causes for the signs she was presenting and symptoms, so we knew we had to act quickly and get to hospital.

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Martin's story (dad)

I was immediately concerned about the short-term impact on our daughter’s health, would she survive?

Would there be any potential short term or more permanent deficits or disabilities. My previous experience of stroke was limited to the devastating impact on older people.

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Daniel's story (brother)

The morning after my sister had her stroke I was woken up by my parents and was told that my older sister had been rushed to the hospital late the night before and that she had just had a stroke.

I was really shocked and surprised at only 19 this could happen, she could have a stroke and her life was in danger.

After I realised that if she did fall asleep that night that she may not have woken up, I was deeply shocked, sad, and shaken.

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Amy's story (sister)

I didn’t quite know what affects it would have on my sister and if she would be the same person I had grown up with after her stroke.

The main questions I wanted answered was why it had happened? What would happen now? And how it would affect her in the future?

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Pat's story (nanna)

If I told friends about my granddaughter they were equally shocked and unaware of young stroke victims with little knowledge of young stroke.

Talking to others and seeing their reactions was so negative, that I stopped talking to people about it because it added to my worry and stress.

I talked to my daughter and son in law with me in the UK who were my only support and source of information.

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Lindsey's story (auntie)

Initially it was shock, with my niece being so young it’s not the sort of news you expect to receive, and also with being half way round the world I felt entirely helpless in that there wasn’t much we could do to help and support her and the family.  

I was so upset and sad for my niece in that she was having to deal with this at such a young age, with her life ahead of her, suppose I felt it was unfair.

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Grace's story (friend)

I think that just making sure that they know you are there for them whether it’s for a chat or just to sit with and be present. If you can’t physically be there, keep checking in.

I think it’s important to be careful of language and avoid saying things like “just be positive” for example. Let them feel the way they are feeling and just be there to listen and support.

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Where to get help