Virginie Sjoelund


I stroked in July 2003, at the end of my first year of grad school. I had a huge headache on Sunday and on Wednesday, my left arm was still asleep, when I decided I might need to see the doctor. I remember thinking that if my arm didn't wake up after two nights, then I should do something since once it had already been asleep.


I was 25 and never thought I might have a stroke. Luckily, it was a minor one. Because I was so fit before, I never noticed that my leg and arm didn't have strength left, I was compensating with the right side, so it was a shock for me when the doctor could just push my limbs down, like I was not trying to resist.


They found out I had a hole in between my atrias (most common reason for young people to have strokes). It was closed January 2004.


I spent a lot of time in PT to regain strength. I was told that everything would be back in 6 months. This did not happen. At first my memory was terrible. I was ranked at the 10th percentile at my first test, which isn't the best way to get a PhD. Luckily that has come back to nearly normal.


I went horse riding, which really improved my balance and back/leg strength (I can saddle the horse alone now and get on it without help). Now, I have pain in the left shoulder, the muscles are not holding my joint together correctly, so the head of the bone gets out of the shoulder. I'm back in PT to try and get a little bit more strength.


I was really lucky that the stroke wasn't any worse. I always try to find a good side in everything, and the good thing about my stroke is that I am less shy and less inhibited. It is actually quite interesting to see how my personality has changed in some ways. I'm less high strung, things happen and I go along with them instead of fighting them and getting upset about it. It makes my life in the lab so much easier.

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Read your Bios.

I had my stroke on July 4th, 2002. Mine was a vertebral dissection. No warning.

I think I understand how you feel about all the effort you must have put in for your PhD. I have a PhD in Chem in 1988.

I am 43 now. The PhD does not mean much now.


Good luck



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