Stroke at Age 28

Holly walker

Most 28-year-olds have heard of a stroke, but very few can explain what it is, or name the symptoms. And neither could Holly Walker, until she had a stroke.

Holly loved to ski, and had moved to Silverton, Colorado to do just that in 2008. She was healthy and happy and didn’t worry about having a headache. But when the headache continued for three days, Holly new something was wrong.

“On the third day my headache had gotten much worse,” says Holly. “When my boyfriend came home, he said I was talking strangely. Mixing up English and French.”

The following morning, Holly’s boyfriend determined that she needed to get to the hospital, which was two hours away. “I was dragging my right leg when I walked from the car to the hospital,” says Holly.

Just as Holly had been dismissive about her symptoms, so were the doctors. “They thought I was on drugs,” says Holly.

When she finally received a CT scan, it showed that there was bleeding on her brain, but doctors again misdiagnosed the stroke as a tumor.

It wasn’t until six days after her initial headache that Holly was finally diagnosed and treated as having a stroke. She was then given blood thinners to dissolve the clot in her brain.

Holly was lucky to have survived her stroke, but she was not left unharmed. Both her brain and body were affected, “I was weak on my right side and my memory was not 100 per cent.”

Holly spent two months in GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre, and continued with a speech and language therapist in her home of Whistler.

It’s now been over a year since her stroke and Holly feels almost back to normal. This past winter she got back on her skis and even took up a new sport, hockey.

“I always thought that a stroke was something that happened to old people, I never thought it would happen to me,” says Holly. “I think it’s really important for everyone to learn the signs and symptoms of stroke, because the quicker you can get to the hospital, the less damage the stroke will cause. I could have received a clot busting drug called tPA, if I had gotten to the hospital sooner, and I may have been able to walk away without much damage at all.”

Photos by Re Wikstrom