Lost for words

Emily Cane, 26, from Ex­eter, thought noth­ing of her headache, un­til she woke up un­able to speak…

Pick Me Up! Special - - Contents -

Cheer­ing my stu­dents on, I felt a puls­ing in my head.

A Per­form­ing Arts teacher at a pri­mary school, I was help­ing out at the af­ter-school tal­ent show.

Al­most home time, I thought. It was March 2017 and I’d had a pound­ing headache all day.

Cer­tain it was noth­ing, I’d pow­ered through.

But as I stood there watch­ing the kids per­form, I col­lapsed. Ev­ery­thing went black. The next thing I re­mem­ber is wak­ing up in Royal Devon

and Ex­eter Hos­pi­tal.

A thou­sand ques­tions raced through my mind. How did I get here? What hap­pened?

I looked around and saw my dad, Roger, 66. ‘Hi Em,’ he said, re­lieved. I tried to re­spond, but no words came out.

What’s go­ing on? I pan­icked. Sens­ing my fear, Dad placed his hand over mine.

‘Don’t worry, just re­lax,’ he re­as­sured me.

I tried to move my right hand, but it was frozen. So was my arm and leg. Just then, a doc­tor walked in. And what he said turned my world up­side down. ‘You’ve had a se­vere stroke,’ he told me.

It’d caused paral­y­sis down the right-hand side of my body.

Doc­tors later dis­cov­ered that it had also brought on a con­di­tion called apha­sia, mean­ing that I wasn’t able to talk.

I strug­gled to process ev­ery­thing.

I was only 25 and had

sobbed to my­self. Over the next 10 days, I had var­i­ous scans to try and find the cause of my stroke. I was also pre­scribed seven types of med­i­ca­tion to help with my pain and anx­i­ety.

And I be­gan with phys­io­ther­apy.

‘With hard work, you could walk again,’ my physio said.

So I gave it ev­ery­thing I had.

I pushed as hard as I could, and slowly I started to no­tice an im­prove­ment.

By the end of those 10 days, I was walk­ing with the help of a frame.

I can do this, I thought. I re­fused to let this stroke rob me of ev­ery­thing.

I started hav­ing oc­cu­pa­tional and speech ther­apy ev­ery day, too.

And just like my walk­ing, I gave it my all.

Fi­nally, my test re­sults sug­gested that there had been a prob­lem with my heart.

So I had a full body scan and X-rays to look for any is­sues which would have led to my stroke.

Hold­ing up my X-ray re­sults, a doc­tor pointed to a gap on a picture of my heart. ‘Right here is where the hole is,’ he ex­plained.

The news was hard to take in.

There was a hole in my heart.

I’d had no idea how it got there and I just couldn’t be­lieve it. The doc­tor said that it was likely that I’d been born with it, but only now was it caus­ing me prob­lems.

The hole had led to a blood clot in my brain, and that’s what had caused my stroke.

I was booked in for an op­er­a­tion to fix it right away. The idea of the pro­ce­dure was scary, but I knew it had to be done. So, last July, I had surgery. It in­volved in­sert­ing a de­vice into my heart, al­low­ing tis­sue to grow over it and close the hole.

While I re­cov­ered, my speech ther­apy con­tin­ued.

Slowly but surely, I be­gan forming words again.

Last Au­gust, I was fi­nally al­lowed to go home.

I could walk for short dis­tances but needed a walk­ing stick to help me.

I’m still hav­ing daily speech ther­apy and physio. I have good days and bad. In March this year, I was able to point my toes for the first time.

That might seem like a small thing, but to me it was amaz­ing.

It means that one day I could maybe dance again.

It’s mad­ness to think that my life changed in an in­stant, and it all started with a headache. But I know I’m lucky to be alive. And even though it’s a long road to re­cov­ery, I’m cer­tainly no quit­ter.

I’d had it my whole life

I was only 25

No quit­ter

I will dance again

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