Quite recently I contacted my friend Dee for a girls’ night in. I hadn’t seen her in two year! Life has been busy. We’d only been in touch via social media. We decided to meet up in London and commute together to her place. On the way I asked, ‘how are you? What have you been up to?’ Dee said, ‘I have something to tell you and you will not believe it?’ People say that all the time but Dee hit me for six. I didn’t believe what she told me. She’d had a stroke on a long haul flight back to England from Hong Kong! She’s younger than me. How could that happened?! Her case is rare but it can happen, so Dee has agreed for me to share her story.
Hong Kong to England
While on a twelve hours flight from Hong Kong to London, my mate had a stroke. In a nutshell, it was very early morning and many of the passengers were asleep. Half-way through the trip Dee woke and decided to use the loo. She felt light headed, blacked-out, and woke up to an air mask on her face, unable to speak.
The pilot landed the plane in Helsinki. Dee was then hospitalised for three weeks in Helsinki were many checks and tests were done. She was given a full bill of health. It’s still unclear what caused the blood clot that lead to her stroke. Eight months later, she’s back at work living life as normal BUT she’s still unable to smile. Her doctors say it will heal in time.
What is a stroke?
A stroke is a brain attack. It happens when the blood supply to part of your brain is cut off. Blood carries essential nutrients and oxygen to your brain. Without blood your brain cells can be damaged or die. This damage can have different effects, depending on where it happens in your brain. It can affect the way your body works as well as how you think, feel and communicate.
What causes stroke?
As we age, our arteries become harder and narrower and more likely to become blocked. However, certain medical conditions and lifestyle factors can speed up this process and increase your risk of having a stroke; for example, high blood pressure (hypertension), high cholesterol, atrial fibrillation, diabetes and possibly prolonged use oral contraceptives.
It’s recorded that taking a contraceptive pill which contains oestrogen slightly increases the risk of thrombosis (the formation of a blood clot) In the case of my friend, a blood clot travelled up her leg to her brain which led to her stroke.
There are three types of strokes: Ischaemic stroke, Haemorrhagic stroke and Transient ischaemic attack. You can find out more here.
Spotting the Symptoms of a stroke
The main symptoms of stroke can be remembered with the word F.A.S.T.:
- Face – the face may have dropped on one side, the person may not be able to smile, or their mouth or eye may have dropped.
- Arms – the person with suspected stroke may not be able to lift both arms and keep them there because of weakness or numbness in one arm.
- Speech – their speech may be slurred or garbled, or the person may not be able to talk at all despite appearing to be awake.
- Time – it’s time to dial 999 immediately if you see any of these signs or symptoms.
When on a long haul trip
We can’t foresee how our health can take a down turn. However, thinking about the above and upcoming festive season exodus, here are a few tips when on a long trip:
- Stay hydrated
- Wear pressure socks/stocking
- Take time to move about and stretch you muscles
If you have any tips to would like to share your experience, please comment below.
Images from Pexel.com