Stroke: Bethany, part 2

Bethany Sinfield, from Bedfordshire, was 17 when she suffered a stroke leaving her with a brain injury.

Here is her story…

Published: October 2015. Date of brain injury: 2013 (young person aged 17 years). When I was 17, I suffered a huge brainstem stroke. It may have been caused by a combination of a hole in my heart and the contraceptive pill. My parents were simply told I'd not walk or talk again and would need to be always fed via a tube.  Bethany in hospital after suffering a stroke


What were your thoughts when you were given the news?

Devastated. It was definitely a very dark moment for my parents. When I heard the news, I thought 'well I can't just stay like this, I'm only 17' So I pushed myself. 


In the early days is there anything you wished the doctors had done differently that would have helped?         

Honestly, I was treated really well and I wouldn't change it. I met the most incredible nurses and therapists along the way too.  Tell us a little bit about life since the brain injury. I was hospitalised for 10 months in total. I have pushed myself through physiotherapy and speech therapy to get where I am today. Yes, I still have left-sided weakness but it does move. Having been told I wouldn't walk or talk again, I am now walking on my own and talking. It's not perfect but it'll get better with time. 


Bethany walking with her mumWhat were other people's reactions to your brain injury?       

When I had the stroke, I initially thought 'but this only happens to old people...' People I tell now don't quite believe it because I'm only 20 years old. My family are my rock. My parents are amazing and they're the ones who have been there for everything. I can't really explain just how brilliant and supportive they are; absolute superstars. 


What are the remaining effects of the brain injury and can you share some of the strategies you use to help?

Now, I have weakness down my left side.  It does move, just not perfectly like before. I have emotional lability, so a mismatch of emotions. Again it's getting better.I have speech difficulty but only because all my cranial nerves are damaged, my language and cognition are the same. I listen to music a lot to help calm me if I get nervous or stressed out. 


What are your expectations and hopes for the future?

I am currently at Milton Keynes College, studying psychology, sociology and english at A Level. After, I would love to go to university and study neuropsychology and brain injury. I campaign and raise awareness for young stroke too, which is so important. I've set up a Twitter page called 'Beth's Story' where I'll be writing a blog all about me and young stroke to raise further awareness. In the future I'd love to help stroke survivors and run a successful awareness Twitter page. 


If you could give one piece of advice or encouragement to anyone who is living with a brain injury what would it be? 

Do not give up. I know it's said a lot but it's really key. You must go on, even today I'm still achieving things, for example, I passed my driving test last week! So carry on going, don't stop.  You can read more about Bethany’s experience and fundraising activities here. Bethany now at age 20
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