It felt like I was drunk, I knew instantly that I just had a stroke, my whole body turned numb.

There was this constant headache and the fatigue was unbearable! I could only stay awake for about half an hour, and sleep the rest of the time. No-one told me about the severity of the stroke and how much the brain had to heal while I had to learn how to walk and my left side that had been affected from the stroke, all over again. I think the best way to explain it is going back to being a baby, they sleep a lot because their brains are developing pathways in the brain daily, such as learning motor skills and talking, learning about the world around them, After a stroke, the brain, is constantly firing new pathways, while learning how to walk, move the side that has been affected, which is exhausting! To read more about my journey, read my autobiography My Beautiful Trauma.

A stroke happens when blood carrying oxygen is unable to get to a part of the brain. Brain cells get damaged and can die if left without oxygen even for a few minutes. A stroke requires immediate medical care, and if you can get to the hospital in time, there is now a medicine that can be injected into you, that can reverse the effects of a stroke partially. However a stroke can be deadly, and can affect several parts of the body well after the event is over.

There are four types of strokes- (https://www.stroke.org.uk/)

Ischemic Stroke (Clots) Occurs when a blood vessel supplying blood to the brain is obstructed. …

Hemorrhagic Stroke (Bleeds) Occurs when a weakened blood vessel ruptures.

TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack) Called a “mini stroke,” it’s caused by a serious temporary clot. …

Cryptogenic Stroke is when there is no definitive, obvious reason the ischemic stroke has happened

Long-term symptoms and recovery time will depend on what areas of the brain were affected.

Respiratory system

Damage to the area of your brain that controls eating and swallowing can cause you to have trouble with these functions. This is called dysphagia. It is a common symptom following a stroke, but often improves with time.

If the muscles in your throat, tongue, or mouth aren’t able to direct food down the esophagus, food and liquid can get into the airway and settle in the lungs. This causes serious complications, like infection and pneumonia.

If you have a stroke that happens in the brain stem, which is where your body’s vital functions like breathing, heartbeat, and body temperature are controlled. This type of stroke is more likely to result in coma or death.

Nervous system

You may feel pain more than normal, or when doing regular activities that weren’t painful before the stroke. This change in perception is because the brain might not understand the sensations, like warmth or cold, the way it used to.

Changes in vision can happen if the parts of the brain that communicate with the eyes get damaged. These issues can include loss of vision, losing one side or parts of the field of vision, and problems moving the eyes. There may also be processing issues, meaning the brain isn’t getting the right information from the eyes.

Foot drop is a common type of weakness or paralysis that makes it difficult to lift the front part of the foot. It causes you to drag your toes along the ground while walking, or bend at the knee to lift the foot higher to keep it from dragging. The problem is usually caused by nerve damage and may improve with rehabilitation. A brace might also be helpful.

Damage to the front part of the brain may cause changes in intelligence, movement, logic, personality traits, and thinking patterns. If this area is affected following a stroke it may also make planning difficult.

Damage to the right side of the brain can cause loss of attention span, focus and memory issues, and trouble recognizing faces or objects even if they’re familiar. It can also result in behavior changes, like impulsiveness, inappropriateness, and depression.

Damage to the left side of the brain can cause difficulty speaking and understanding language, memory problems, trouble reasoning, organizing, thinking mathematically/analytically, and behavior changes.

Following a stroke, you’re also at a higher risk of having a seizure. This often depends on the size of the stroke, the location, and its severity.

Circulatory system

A stroke is often caused by existing issues within the circulatory system that build up over time. These are often due to complications related to high cholesterol, high blood pressure, smoking, and diabetes. A stroke can be caused by bleeding, known as a hemorrhagic stroke, or blocked blood flow called an ischemic stroke. A clot typically causes blocked blood flow.

Having one stroke, causes you to be at a higher risk of having a second stroke or heart attack. To prevent another stroke, your doctor will recommend lifestyle changes, like eating healthy and being more physically active. They may also prescribe medications.

Muscular system

Depending on which area of the brain is damaged, a stroke can have an effect on a variety of different muscle groups. These changes can range from major to minor, and will require rehabilitation to improve muscle movement..

A stroke normally affects one side of the brain. The left side of the brain controls the right side of the body and the right side of the brain controls the left side of the body. If there’s a lot of damage to the left side of the brain, you may experience paralysis on the right side of the body and vice versa.

When messages can’t travel properly from the brain to the body’s muscles, this can cause paralysis and muscle weakness. Weak muscles have trouble supporting the body, which tends to add to movement and balance problems.

How to try and prevent yourself from suffering a stroke

  • Cut down your fatty foods and sugar intake. Go see a nutritionist who can help change your diet to benefit your health.
  • Exercise regularly, this keeps your blood flowing, keeping in mind that regular exercise is beneficial for overall health

Author, speaker, educator georgiana.nz