Teenage Harlow stroke survivor backs campaign to raise awareness of impact of having a stroke at a young age

Health / Thu 26th Oct 2023 at 08:06am

A HARLOW stroke survivor who couldn’t walk or talk after his stroke, is now backing a campaign to raise awareness of the impact of having a stroke at a young age.

Benjamin Spires was 18 years old when he had a stroke ‘completely out of the blue’ in 2017. The stroke left Benjamin in a coma for ten days, and when he woke, he was unable to talk, walk or swallow. 

Benjamin who was studying at university at the time explains how his life dramatically changed overnight, ‘life as I knew it – as an 18-year-old carefree student – had completely changed. Before my stroke my daily dilemma would be where I wanted to go out each night – and suddenly, I had to contemplate my life being flipped upside down, and relearning how to walk, talk and to be able to eat again.’

In June 2017 Benjamin was on his summer break from University, back at home with his parents. Benjamin explains, ‘I had gone to bed and shortly after woke up as I didn’t feel well. I went to wash my face, and my whole head hurt like it was being squeezed really hard. I remember looking up at the mirror, expecting to be bleeding from every opening on my face – that’s how painful it felt.

‘I turned around and suddenly, I started being sick. Thankfully my parents and girlfriend heard and quickly checked on me. At this stage I don’t remember much but I had lost most functionality of my body.’

Benjamins’ parents knew that something was seriously wrong and quickly called for an ambulance. Benjamin was in and out of consciousness, unable to walk or talk when he was conscious. 

By the time Benjamin reached hospital he was in a coma.

Benjamin said: ‘I immediately went down to have brain surgery. They performed a procedure to relieve some pressure on my brain and attach drains to remove some of the excess blood. I had a second brain surgery a couple of days later and underwent a third surgery a few days after. A mixture of all elements discussed in my story saved my life and I am immensely grateful for all of them!

‘I think it is very important to spread the message that a stroke to happen to anybody, for any number of reasons, at any time. Another aspect which I appreciate is sometimes realism rather than pessimism, but something that I really struggled with is that you can return from a stroke – but it requires a lot of work, which is difficult.

‘Life as a stroke survivor is still extremely difficult. I still struggle today, six years on, but I can manage them much better. I’m proud that since my stroke I’ve done many things to get back on track to where I want to be – I returned to university and graduated, I got back into playing football, started a dream job, and got married in August this year!’

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