I had just finished my morning run and was drinking a coffee in the sunshine in late 2020 when I started experiencing visual disturbances, dizziness and headache. I thought I was having a bad migraine, but I was having a stroke. I did not seek medical attention until the following morning when I went to the emergency room and within an hour was having surgery to remove a blood clot from my brain. I was 31 with no risk factors for stroke, although they found a PFO in my heart and I had that closed 8 months later.
Border restrictions due to the pandemic kept me apart from my family in New Zealand during what was an incredibly difficult time physically as well as mentally and emotionally. I’m so lucky to have had the unwavering support from my partner and friends who immediately rallied around me and helped me navigate my recovery journey.
My vision did not return fully and I now move through the world with a right-sided hemianopia. While I can no longer drive and struggle in unfamiliar busy places, I am so grateful I am able to continue doing what I love most – running, cycling and hiking.
I am excited to be involved in the stroke community and I’m passionate about contributing to the conversation for young people impacted by stroke, the mental health challenges following stroke and the experience of LGBTQI+ survivors.