Harrogate stroke victim tells her story

Millie Carrington (left) and her friend from Uni, Maddy Austin just before they set-off hitch-hiking to Paris
Millie Carrington (left) and her friend from Uni, Maddy Austin just before they set-off hitch-hiking to Paris

A Harrogate woman has shared the story of how she suffered a stroke at just 18 in a bid to raise awareness  for other young victims.

Millie Carrington, 20, was ready to leave home to start university in Edinburgh when she fell victim to a stroke that put her life on hold.

Millie was at work when the stroke took hold, but, assuming she was just having a severe migraine, she left for a family holiday to Guernsey that day as planned.

She said: “It felt like I was having a really bad migraine and I couldn’t see properly.

“My vision went blurry and my face fell down on the left side for a couple of minutes. I just couldn’t get my words out properly, I felt really out of it, I didn’t know what was going on.

But Millie’s parents could tell something was seriously wrong from her muddled speech and the fact that she had spent most of the holiday asleep.

She said: “When I was awake I would just talk total rubbish - in my head I made sense but my family were asking ‘what are you trying to say’.

“When I was told I had the stroke I didn’t really say anything because I wasn’t really aware of what had happened.

“I realised it was something much more serious than a simple migraine.”

“In a way I felt relieved because there was a reason for all this happening to me but obviously I felt scared and quite emotional.”

Forced to put her uni prospects on hold after her stroke, Millie found that her age only made things worse.

“It’s much more common in older people, when I was getting speech therapy, all the flashcards were aimed towards elderly people. I remember one flashcard had dentures on it and that’s just not relatable when you’re a young person.

“It was hard for my friends to understand too, it’s difficult to explain to them what it is because they’ve never experienced anything like that, whereas an older person might have had a relative that has been through it.

“I felt left behind, everybody was going off to uni that year and doing things with their life.”

Today Millie is in her second year at the University of Edinburgh and has even raised more than £500 for the Stroke Association by hitch-hiking from Edinburgh to Paris.

But despite her remarkable recovery, Millie still struggles with the effects of the crippling event.

She said: “I still feel like I can tell when I’m having speech problems, I will just forget my words randomly and I can still get tired quite easily.

“Another thing is anxiety - it’s not a direct effect of the stroke but I get it because of my speech - I still feel different to other people.”

Now, Millie is appealing to all young people to make themselves aware of stroke symptoms and to make sure they act if they think they might be having one.

Millie said: “If I had gone to the hospital sooner I could have had stopped the effects of my stroke and not had as many problems afterwards.

“Young people like me should be recognising the signs earlier and getting themselves to hospital the second something seems wrong.