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My Dog Saved My Life: Lynn's Stroke Journey

Disclaimer: The information presented in this article is based solely on the personal experiences and accounts of the interviewed stroke survivors. The symptoms, treatments, and challenges discussed by the interviewees are unique to their individual circumstances and should not be taken as medical advice or generalized medical claims. Readers should consult their healthcare professionals for advice and information specific to their own health conditions. Singapore National Stroke Association (SNSA) does not endorse or validate the medical accuracy of the personal experiences shared in this article.

Lynn's life took an unexpected turn on July 24, 2023, when she experienced a stroke at the age of 38. The date remains etched in her memory as a pivotal moment that reshaped her perspective on health and well-being. At the time, Lynn led a busy life, juggling her role as an account executive while pursuing a certification in accounting.

Prior to her stroke, Lynn had been dealing with frequent migraines, occurring as often as once or twice a week. These migraines intensified as the date of her stroke approached. Lynn chose to soldier on, undeterred by the warning signs, believing she could manage the pain and complete her responsibilities. Despite learning about her hypertension years earlier, she had not taken proactive measures to address it, dismissing it as a minor concern. Looking back, Lynn recognized that she had been experiencing subtle symptoms for years, but she attributed them to factors like aging.

That fateful day started off just like any other day for Lynn. She woke up with a migraine and took some paracetamol, which seemed to help temporarily. She continued her workday, but on her way home, the migraine returned with an unbearable intensity. Feeling extremely unwell, she managed to get home but couldn't eat her dinner and lay down on the sofa, hoping the pain would subside. She was alone at home with her pet dog, Miu Miu, a male poodle. Lynn eventually went to the bathroom and vomited.

Steve, her fiancé at that time, was working at the block directly opposite. He works at a renovation company and was seeing a client. He realized something was wrong when Miu Miu began barking very loudly, unusually, and persistently. Sensing the urgency, he rushed home, finding Lynn unconscious on the sofa with a shattered glass on the floor. He noticed that she was in distress, exhibiting stroke symptoms like slurred speech and drooping on one side of her face. Without hesitation, he called for emergency medical assistance, a decision that would prove crucial in Lynn's journey toward recovery.

Upon arrival at the hospital, Lynn's situation was dire. Her skyrocketing blood pressure of 295 posed immediate challenges for the medical team. Despite this hurdle, Steve advocated for swift action, pushing for an urgent MRI to assess the extent of the damage caused by the stroke. The MRI results confirmed Lynn's worst fears—a stroke had occurred, accompanied by significant bleeding in her brain. This critical diagnosis necessitated emergency surgery to address the burst blood vessel and prevent further harm.

Lynn's condition was very serious, and doctors worked hard to get her stable before surgery. Her blood pressure, a key concern, needed to be lowered within a narrow timeframe to ensure a safe procedure. Miraculously, medical efforts succeeded, and Lynn was prepared for surgery within minutes. Post-surgery, Lynn remained in a coma for five days, during which Steve braced himself for the possibility of a devastating outcome. But, against the odds, Lynn woke up. At first, she was confused and disoriented, but soon she started to understand her situation.

The ICU became a battleground for Lynn's recovery, with medical teams and family members rallying around her. Steve showed his dedication by shaving his head to match Lynn's, who lost her hair because of the surgery. This act gave her emotional support and helped her feel less alone. Lynn was initially shocked and upset about her shaved head, but seeing Steve do the same made her feel better.

The recovery journey was challenging for Lynn, marked by a drainage bag for brain fluid post-surgery that limited her daily activities. Simple tasks like washing her hands became daunting. The prospect of needing a permanent drainage system added to her anxieties, but Lynn's resilience prevailed as she surpassed critical tests, avoiding the necessity for permanent procedures. As her condition stabilized, the medical team gradually removed the drainage bag.

Reflecting on her experience, Lynn realized how lucky she was compared to other stroke survivors who faced severe consequences, such as partial blindness or unique stroke triggers. Taking her medicine every day reminds her of how much her life changed because of the stroke.

On a brighter note, when asked about how Lynn met her then-fiancé (now husband), Steve, they shared that their journey began in 2019 through mutual friends. Their relationship evolved, and they finally got married in March 2024 after going through thick and thin together. Despite their contrasting personalities—Lynn's reserved nature complemented by Steve's outgoing demeanor—their bond flourished, becoming a pillar of strength through adversity. Their journey together led them to a new home, offering stability and convenience.

Lynn reminisced that she was once an avid clubber. "I used to drink until morning," she admitted. However, her stroke drastically changed her lifestyle. "After the stroke, I lost interest in clubbing. It became boring and meaningless," she reflected. Lynn believed that the stroke was a wake-up call, prompting her to lead a more decent and purposeful life.

Lynn's recovery included a return to her job, which she felt fortunate to retain. Working in accounting, she had pursued higher education to advance her career. Remarkably, her employer kept her position open during her hospital stay and subsequent recovery period. "I was still getting paid during my hospital stay and leave," she noted. By October, she had transitioned back to work from home, gradually increasing her hours until she could return to the office.

Lynn shared that her involvement with the Singapore National Stroke Association (SNSA) began after watching a segment titled 'Body SOS 小毛病大问题' on Channel 8 about hypertension and stroke. Intrigued and motivated by her own experiences, she sought to learn more and subsequently joined SNSA as a Life Member. Steve jokingly added that Lynn is not a regular TV viewer but started watching more during her recovery period because she was bored. Lynn expressed her eagerness to connect with other like-minded individuals who had undergone similar experiences.

As the conversation concluded, Steve's advice to readers is to always prioritize their health and to take proactive measures by getting regular health checkups. Lynn's closing remark was,

"To me, last time I tended to compete with other people... Now, everything is not important as long as you can live normally."


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