‘I thought my stroke was a hangover’: Super-healthy mum mistook dizzying headaches for hangover when hit with deadly blood clot
A super-healthy mum was left partially paralysed after she suffered a stroke – she thought was a hangover – after a night out with friends.
When Leanne Arnold, 33, experienced dizziness and a headache the day after a BBQ with her friends last July, she put it down to a hangover and went for a lie down.
But when the pretty mum woke a couple of hours later, she collapsed with a searing headache and severe pins and needles.
Unable to walk, Leanne from Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire, was rushed to hospital by ambulance, where doctors revealed she had been hit with a deadly brain bleed that had left her paralysed down her right side.
After making a miraculous recovery less than a year on from the attack, the mum-of-one admits she immediately mistook her symptoms as a hangover and was shocked to hear she had suffered a deadly brain bleed when she was just 32.
Leanne, a midwife support worker for the NHS, said: “I used to be a health trainer so my friends would often say I’m the healthiest person going.
“It was a fairly tame weekend; I went to a friend’s BBQ where I had a few glasses of punch – I don’t drink heavily.
“I’ve always been a believer that, if you want to lead a healthy lifestyle, you have to show restraint and moderation, especially with drinking.
“But as soon as I got home, my head felt foggy and I couldn’t stop sweating.
“The next day, I went for a lie down during the day; I had a really painful splitting head ache so I put it down to a hangover as my head was always sensitive to alcohol
“But as soon as I got up a couple of hours later, my head was pounding and I could feel pins and needles pulsating through my body.”
Moments before the brain bleed, Leanne managed to call her dad, Steve, 54, who rang an ambulance as a precaution after hearing about her symptoms.
But when the blinding headache gave way to dizziness, Leanne collapsed in her bedroom, while her daughter, Lauren, 15, slept next door.
She said: “The moment I collapsed I suddenly saw my life flash before my eyes; it was an incredibly scary experience.
“Luckily I rang my dad, who called the ambulance, just before it got serious, but I was still pretty incomprehensible and panicked.
“When the medics arrived, I was barely able to say my name, let alone walk.
“I just remember thinking, ‘I don’t want to die yet’.”
When she arrived at Scunthorpe Hospital, Leanne was closely monitored by doctors and nurses who told her they suspected she might have suffered a stroke.
The next day, she was given an MRI scan before she was transferred to Grimsby Hospital, where doctors confirmed she had been struck with a blood clot in the bottom of her head.
Leanne – who was immobile for the next six weeks – was left unable to speak and move her right side from the neck downwards.
She said: “I don’t remember much, but what I do vaguely remember is being slumped in a bed and being told by a doctor that I might have suffered a stroke.
“When I went in for the MRI scan the next day and was told I had suffered a blood clot in the bottom of my head.
“I couldn’t walk, talk or feel my right side – it was absolutely terrifying.”
Leanne was discharged from hospital two weeks later, but could not return to work for another three months.
After months of rehabilitation, she stunned doctors by building up enough strength to return to work and go on a dream skiing holiday to Austria with her friends for New Year.
But to prevent a stroke happening again, she has been prescribed blood thinning tablets for life to keep the symptoms at bay.
However, despite the on-going risk of another brain bleed, Leanne – who used to go to the gym three times a week – is determined to lead an active and healthy lifestyle, as well as enjoying a few drinks in moderation.
She said: “Given I have led such a healthy lifestyle, I was confused and scared when I suffered the stroke at such a young age.
“I’m on blood thinning tablets now, which I’ll be on for life, but that doesn’t mean I’m not determined to lead an active life.
“I had all the tests, but doctors still couldn’t put their finger on it – it was a freak occurrence to my mind.
“But it serves as a harrowing reminder that strokes can affect anyone at any age.”
On July 4 2015, Leanne is organising a fundraising event – including Take That and The Full Monty tribute acts – in a bid to raise funds for the Grimsby Hospital stroke unit and the Stroke Association.
Bernice Jones, Regional Director for the Stroke Association in the West Midlands, said: “Strokes occur approximately 152,000 times a year in the UK; that’s one every 3 minutes and 27 seconds.
“Many people think that strokes only happen to older people but strokes can strike anyone at any time.
“Whilst most people who have a stroke are older, younger people can have strokes too, including children. One in four strokes in the UK happen in people under the age of 65.
“Today’s figures show that stroke can no longer be seen as a disease of older people.
“There is an alarming increase in the numbers of people having a stroke in working age.
“This comes at a huge cost, not only to the individual, but also to their families and to health and social care services.
“The simple truth is that we must do more to raise people’s awareness of risk factors, to help prevent them from having a stroke.
“With many more stroke patients now receiving emergency medical treatment, we also need the right health and social care services available.
“People must have the support they need to make the best possible recovery and avoid having to cope for decades with the disabilities that stroke can bring.”
For more information about stroke, please visit www.stroke.org.uk or call the Stroke Association helpline on 0303 303 3100.