Mum, 28, paralysed from sudden stroke after taking the pill

A young mum was partially paralysed after a sudden stroke after taking the pill.

Issy Fox, 28, had been taking the pill for three months when she suffered a stroke in front of her terrified mother and baby son in February.

The mum-of-one was rushed to hospital where an MRI scan diagnosed a right frontal lobe stroke, leaving her left hand, arm and part of her face paralysed.

Doctors identified the pill as the cause after checking her family history, while tests on her blood and heart showed she was otherwise healthy.

Despite being put on blood thinners to reduce the risk of a second stroke, Issy was so scared that she would suffer a second one that she refused to be alone for weeks.

Partner Luke Connolly, 28, or mum Rhiannon Fox, 51, were at her side for the first week as she began to recover to help her feel safe.

Issy, from Crewe in Cheshire, said: "You’d never think it was going to be you, and then it happens and it is. It’s just crazy.

"I’m coming to terms with it now. At first I just felt shock. I was dealing with the physical side effects such as dealing with the paralysed hand, the paralysed face, the fatigue.

"Now it’s more the mental side effects. It has been a real struggle emotionally. There was a lot of anger, and ‘why me?’ and stuff like that.

"Now it’s just a case of going forward and doing what I can.

"Raising awareness is really important to me at the moment.

"Not a lot of women do know that it is one of the risks associated with taking hormonal contraception."

Due to her complicated history with contraception, Issy says she was put on a high oestrogen, low progesterone pill in November 2018.

Issy had enjoyed a day spending time with her son Freddie, one, and her mum when she suddenly lost the ability to speak on February 8.

She says her mum at first thought she was joking around but became concerned when Issy’s shoulder and face slumped to one side.

Issy was rushed to hospital but claims she didn’t believe doctors when they told her she had had a stroke.

Issy said: "I had had this perfectly normal day. I don’t work on Fridays so I spend that time with my little boy. This time my mum was off work so we went to lunch at a local pub.

"We came home and sat down and the little one was crawling around, babbling away.

"The next thing was that I couldn’t speak. I tried to get my words out but I was stammering on my words.

"I’ve forgotten what it was but I was saying a word beginning with ‘p’ and to me it sounded like I was going ‘p-p-p’.

"But my mum said my whole face just dropped and I was going ‘mmurgh’. I couldn’t make any sound.

"I could speak within a few seconds. I was really lucky, I didn’t lose my communication like a lot of stroke victims do, which is really good.

"She said to me, ‘what are you doing?’ and I said, ‘I don’t know, I don’t feel well’.

"She said, ‘stop it’, because she thought I was being silly, which wouldn’t be out of character.

"Then she realised [something was wrong] because my shoulder slumped and I couldn’t get my words out again and told her I don’t feel well.

"She said, ‘are you having a stroke?’ and I said, ‘I think so’. And she called an ambulance. It was really quick – it was within seconds that it happened.

"The paramedics did some tests and said can you smile – I couldn’t – can you lift your arm into the air. I could but one was significantly lower [than the other].

"I couldn’t grip and my heart rate was too high, and they sent me off to hospital. It was very dramatic.

"It was such a shock when they told me in A&E that I’d had a stroke. I just didn’t think they were talking about me.

"I saw my family getting all upset and I was wondering why they were all so upset. That was when my cousin said, ‘you’ve had a stroke’. It is just shocking."

At first, Issy was able to move her hand and arm but as the afternoon drew on her left arm slowly became paralysed and the mum feared the feeling would never return.

But she does claim that she is lucky that she did not lose her ability to communicate.

Issy said: "What they think has happened is that the blood clot moved at some point, which meant that the damage I had was quite minimal considering the type of stroke.

"That meant that I had managed to save some brain cells, which is always helpful. It was really fortunate that that had happened.

"Whilst I was still in hospital I could still move my arm and hand for a while but by about 4:30pm I couldn’t move my hand at all.

"It was completely paralysed, which was a cause for concern. That means the stroke was still happening, in a sense.

"At this point they couldn’t tell me if it was going to be permanent damage or anything and I was really scared because I was worried I was going to be disabled forever.

"All the blood tests and heart tests showed no other reason for the stroke. There was nothing in the family. My heart rate was fine, my blood tests were fine.

"The only thing that had recently changed was the fact that I had recently gone on the pill. I had started the pill three months before I had the stroke."

Issy had already had her doubts over contraception after having the contraceptive injection seriously affected her fertility – and the coil perforated her uterus.

The couple had hoped to be able to have a second baby in the future – but now Issy and Luke are seriously considering whether it would be healthy for her to conceive again.

Issy said: "It took about two years to have my son. We only needed medication, so didn’t need IVF which was good, but it was a bit of an emotional rollercoaster.

"We were thinking of giving it another year and trying for another baby but now its a case of we don’t know if we’ll be able to have children again.

"They say that if the pill is going to cause that kind of damage it happens in the first three months. You give it three months to settle to see how your body is going to take to it.

"Obviously my body didn’t take to it. That’s the only thing that they can conclude that had changed in my life – was me taking the pill. I had to come off it straight away.

"I am kind of not surprised. I was on the injection a few years ago and that made me infertile. I had to go through fertility treatment to get pregnant.

"I don’t really have much faith in contraception anyway. Now I’m just not using any hormonal contraception ever.

"I went for a coil fitting in October and it accidentally perforated my uterus which caused a massive bleed, so I had to go to hospital. I’m completely put off the coil now.

"That would be the most logical and sensible solution to go for. But I’m just not interested at the moment.

"Condoms will do, and we’ll just have to be extra careful. I’m just glad I’m alive and we’ll have to be sensible.

"If I had a massive bleed now because of the coil, it would kill me because I am on blood thinners.

"There are all these risks now that I have to take into consideration that I didn’t have to before. It’s just really sh** luck, it’s terrible."

Luckily the mum is nearly back to full health, with the numbness in her face fading each day and the strength and mobility fully returned to her left hand.

But she admits it has left her feeling more self-conscious about her looks.

Issy said: "I feel more self-conscious now as a result of the stroke. My smile is very wonky. If I do a forced smile it’s very wonky but if I naturally smile, thankfully it’s not.

"It’s hard to do the fake smiles at the till where you’re trying to be nice because it doesn’t come across as that anymore.

"I am getting better now. The first couple of weeks my smile was horrendously crooked. If I would talk it would be crooked and I would slur a lot.

"Now I sound more out of breath but I don’t sound drunk like I did when it first happened, which was really embarrassing.

"With a stroke, it is just a case of being patient. That’s something I still struggle with.

"It is just a case of biding your time and not letting it drag you down because it can be really emotionally draining.

"Waking up and realising again that your face doesn’t work is just really emotionally draining. It just takes time."

Now Issy hopes to volunteer to help other stroke survivors and is running a 5K on March 24 as part of the Stroke Association’s Resolution Run series.

Sarah Adderley, head of stroke support for central England at the Stroke Association said: "In the UK there are around 100,000 strokes every year and there are 1.2 million people living with the effects of stroke too.

"Stroke really isn’t a condition that just happens to older people either. In fact, 1 in 4 strokes actually happen to people of a working age like Issy.

"A stroke happens in an instant and often changes lives forever. As a charity we are here to support stroke survivors and their families as they look to rebuild their lives after stroke."

You can donate here .

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