In France, each year, more than 130,000 strokes occur, or one every four minutes. Gladys Mbemba testifies to what she experienced.
- Gladys suffered a stroke when she was 40 years old.
- She has now developed anxiety and chronic fatigue and must now anticipate and split up all her activities to be as efficient as possible.
- “The invisible disability is not seen but felt. Due to its invisibility it often remains misunderstood. Often ignored, it can lead to social isolation.”
A splitting, intense headache, rapid pain along the neck, spine and pelvis… Unable to guess it, Gladys was indeed having a stroke, alone at home. It was a year and a half ago, she explains: “I had a hemorrhagic stroke, it happened on April 22, 2022, it was a ruptured aneurysm that I had, more precisely“. Already having chronic illnesses, she minimizes her headache, takes a paracetamol tablet and goes to rest. The right reflex? She decides to call her mother to inform her, and it is she who puts him flea in the ear : “She told me over the phone ‘don’t fall asleep, you might be having a stroke’, something I didn’t think about. However, I was a first aid worker at work, I was briefed to recognize a stroke in colleagues except that it was the common symptoms such as paralyzed face, language disorders, half of the body paralyzed, and I, I didn’t have that. I had a headache.“
Brain attack: “Since I only had this headache, I didn’t seem sick”
The firefighters quickly arrived at his home, but the treatment took longer. The stroke started around 11 a.m., but Gladys was seen by a doctor seven hours later, at 6 p.m. According to her, she did not appear ill or at least… not in a life-threatening emergency: “I tolerate pain quite well; since I only had this headache, I didn’t seem sick. I was even able to go to the bathroom alone, I was able to move around and talk. But the headache bothered me a lot and didn’t go away.“
At the end of the day, the doctor gives him a CT scan with contrast. Drunk with fatigue, Gladys only has flashbacks of her night, but she remembers that in the early morning, she was told of her ruptured aneurysm in a unit managed by neurosurgeons. One of them explains to her what happened to her, she tells us: “It’s an aneurysm that burst, in an artery, so there is blood in the brain.“
“I had to consult a speech therapist who made the diagnosis: the stroke had indeed damaged my work memory”
She is placed under general anesthesia in an interventional radiology room, the doctors reach the brain via the femoral artery, which is located in the groin. Which cost him seventeen days in intensive care and around a week and a half in the neurology department. “Behind, I was arrested for a year on long-term sick leave; Currently, I haven’t fully returned, but I have returned to work, and that feels good. Convalescence was difficult at the beginning due to my after-effects: fatigue and cognitive disorders. I had a tendency to search for my words, to make mistakes in writing. I could mean the word “bread” by writing it “pine” without realizing it right away. Normally being a person who could do several things at the same time, I was no longer able to do so. I had a lot of trouble maintaining my concentration. I had to consult a speech therapist who made the diagnosis: the stroke had indeed damaged my work memory.“
Today, Gladys puts things into perspective: “LMy morale is there, I am alive!“She feels lucky. She always is.”the same Gladys“, although she has had to adapt and accept that she can no longer do things as before. She also takes more care of herself and her physical health. The biological engineer now attends a sports-health center, and it does her good. She gradually regains her energy. But above all, the forty-year-old listens to herself, she tells us: “As soon as my body gives me a signal, I don’t push it too much, I adapt to it on a daily basis“.
Having several chronic pathologies, the stroke could have been multifactorial, that is to say that several causes could have triggered it, such as hypertension, obesity or antiphospholipid syndrome (which can cause thrombosis). With a touch of stress on top of that.
It is because of having experienced all this that Gladys is now an expert patient. “An expert patient is a person who suffers from chronic pathology and who, as they live with the pathology, has acquired expertise in the disease which can be put to good use with regard to their patients. peers, from one’s doctors, is to give a patient’s perspective. You have to have a certain distance from your experience, because indeed, treating a chronic pathology when you don’t know how it is experienced is sometimes complicated. And for us, that’s the side we can bring.“To do this, she followed training, a University Diploma in therapeutic patient education at the Sorbonne University. Some caregivers can follow this training, but the most appropriate is an affected person to bring a finer sensitivity to the feeling of the disease
“I had a completely stereotypical image of stroke”
Full of prejudices about stroke, “I thought it happened to older people or those who smoke maybe a little too much“, she said shyly. “I had a completely stereotypical image of stroke, and upon entering this world, I realized that it was not! That we are all affected by stroke regardless of age, there are even babies who have strokes! It was important for me to talk about the signs of stroke, when to recognize a vital emergency, and behind it, to practice prevention by eliminating risk factors and having favorable habits. This is why with four Instagrammers, also stroke victims, we decided to create an awareness video, available on our social networks, with the skills of each one where we present the stroke and its after-effects . The post-stroke must be highlighted.“
His new sword of Damocles? The fear of doing one again, because “no one is safe from doing one again“, she admits.
Before leaving the editorial staff of Why Doctor, she confided: “Often, when faced with illness, we can feel guilty. But I think we shouldn’t apologize for being sick, because we don’t choose it.“
@pourquoidoctor A stroke, or “brain attack,” is the blockage or rupture of an artery in the brain. This is an absolute medical emergency because, every second, the patient loses thousands of nerve cells in their brain. You must call 15 to treat it in a specialized center. Gladys was a victim more than a year ago and reveals her testimony to us. #patienttestimony #interview #testimony #stroke #whydoctor ♬ original sound – whydoctor