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At just 22 years old, Jake suffered a stroke. Two days after leaving hospital, he had another. This is his story.

On Sunday 10 March, I was drinking at a mate’s house with my partner and some friends until about 4am. I got about 2 hours of sleep and then woke up with a bit of a headache. As I got up to get Panadol from the other side of the room, I fell over.

My partner looked at me, and I stood up and reassured her, I’m ok, I’m ok, I’m just drunk.” Then I took another step and fell again.

My partner took a better look at me and said: “No, there's something wrong, Jake.” She could see that my face was drooping. As I tried to move, I couldn’t lift my left arm or leg.

The ambulance arrived within 15 minutes and, because I got to the hospital so quickly, I was given the clot-busting drug, thrombolysis, which was fantastic. The stroke I had was ischemic, meaning I had a clot in my brain, but no bleeding.

An angiogram, where they went through my groin up to my brain with a camera, confirmed that the clot had definitely been broken down. The drug worked so well that I was looking forward to play in my cricket grand final two weeks later. Yet two days after leaving hospital, I suffered another stroke.

This time, I waited in Emergency for 6.5 hours and by the time I was seen by a doctor, I had missed the opportunity for thrombolysis. I had to be airlifted to a Melbourne hospital, where the plan was for the surgeons to perform a clot retrieval, where I remained for a week.

I have now nearly fully recovered physically from my stroke, but the anxiety and fear of another one will always be there.

The stroke has changed things for me in a few ways. I fatigue easily, and suffer from anxiety. I can’t play hard contact sports like AFL, which is disappointing, but I do play basketball and cricket. I don’t drink as much as I used to. I would say I’m more cautious and careful. I think I've become more of a sentimental person. I want to help educate the community about stroke and help prevent others from having a stroke.

Doctors were a bit confused about why this happened to me. I didn’t have any risk factors for stroke. I was 22, had no family history, and didn’t have high cholesterol or blood pressure. I guess it just goes to show how complex this can be. While I was able to stop taking clopitogrel, I now take preventive medication to keep my cholesterol and blood pressure low.

One quote that got me through the tough times was that: “Life's like a game of poker; you get good hands and bad hands, but how you play them is up to you.”

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