Survivor Spotlight with Vikki Mathews


My story began February 1st 2017.  Eight days before turning 18, a horrid headache hit me very suddenly. It felt like a very bad migraine, in which usually pain killers, a nap and a dark room would cure. Three days later, I still had no relief.   I sought help and was told it was a classic migraine. I received migraine medicine, which I was happy to accept, as it wasn’t the first time I had a migraine that lasted days. Over the next week I tried a few more migraine medicines and days of rest to help.  I spent my 18th birthday in awful pain.
On February 20th, at 5 am, I woke up with a blinding headache. I rang in sick to work and immediately made another doctors appointment. On this day, I got sent to A&E. The right side of my body was numb and weak.  I was vomiting and had a massive headache which are the classic signs of a stroke right? Apparently not, the ambulance team and doctor at the hospital told me it was stress headaches.  I was sent home with more migraine tablets! I recovered from a mini stroke at home and spent over a week in bed. I was in and out of consciousness.  I was also having seizures (which I didn’t know were seizures until much later). After another complaint of head pain to my doctor, I finally got an MRI.
Finally, on March 13th, I got a phone call to get to hospital for immediate treatment. Here, they found a secondary bleed and 2 blood clots in my brain. They also told me that I had a mini stroke in February. I was diagnosed with Cerebral Venous Sinus Thrombosis and put straight on Clexane and Warfarin. After experiencing another seizure, I was told that I was experiencing partial seizures in my arms due to scarring on my brain from the clots.
I found out in June my clots and bleed had disappeared.  My brain looked much better! In September, after blood tests, it became apparent that I had a genetic mutation called Prothrombin Variant Heterozygous Mutation causing my blood to clot more than usual.
This mutation combined with the contraceptive pill, triggered clots to form in my brain. I still struggle every day with the effects the clots had on my brain, despite my brain “appearing” okay on scans. Before this, I never even thought someone my age could get blood clots anywhere, never mind in the brain and be at risk of a deadly stroke or sudden death. I am still coming to terms with what I have been through myself, but still try to raise awareness where I can of the rare side effects of the pill and the signs and symptoms of thrombosis and stroke. I would like to think I could prevent this from happening to someone else by raising awareness.


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