Portrait: Esther

Aged 32, nothing suggested that I would wake up one day with such an event that turns one's life upside down in a second.

A little bit about Esther 

My name is Esther and I survived a double ischemic stroke on January 16, 2022 at the age of 32. Nothing suggested that I would wake up one day with such an event that turns one's life upside down in a second.  

I woke up alone with a sensation of electric shock, vomiting, sweating and above all, with a strong dizziness that gave me the feeling that I was going to lose consciousness at the slightest movement of my head. I had to crawl and cling to my furniture in order to reach my front door, which was very traumatic.  


Specialists involved in my recovery 

I have been followed by neurologists, cardiologists, speech therapists, psychologists and physiotherapists. I also had to do orthoptics. Given the late care that I received and the shocking lack of consideration from the emergency services,  it is a real miracle that I have so few after-effects. I had to learn to walk again, regain my sense of balance, short-term memory and several executive functions.  


Symptoms that remain 

At this stage of my recovery, I suffer from great tiredness, a high intolerance to noise and to crowds which makes my social life really complicated. It is also hard for me to concentrate for long hours and I can only work part-time following an 8-month sick leave.  


My greatest struggles 

I have a very different way of life than I had before my accident, and this mourning has been painful to do. However, what I consider to be the most severe disability is the lack of recognition of invisible disability and the shame I feel in public places or at work, where I feel very isolated and misunderstood. I find it hard to strike a balance between explaining to others why I may feel a certain way (e.g. tiredness, behaviour) and acting as if nothing has happened. However, I am beginning to take stock of this first year of the rest of my life.  


Learnings so far in my recovery journey 

I learned so much about myself and those around me that it literally saved me along the way. I got closer to amazing people, my angels from heaven. I learned patience, to enjoy the present moment and to marvel at all the experiences I can have on a daily basis. Paradoxically, I feel less empty than before! I don't feel cursed but on the contrary miraculous and grateful for the bonus that life has given me. I find being a survivor both a blessing and a responsibility, out of respect for all the people who haven't had a second chance.  

Why me? There is a real quest for meaning that makes convalescence a real roller coaster. I deeply believe in post-traumatic growth, and I am proud of all the unsuspected resources that one discovers in the dark.  I am proud of all the progress made and proud of being  a source of inspiration and a model of resilience to some people. It was not the goal, but if anyone can take a little spark from my accident and find motivation or hope in it, then it was worth it. 

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