Vertebral artery dissection

Hi, just wanted to introduce myself. I’m Hannah, 36 years old and on the 13th January 2023 I had a stroke. The last thing I thought I’d be writing but here I am. The day it happened, I woke up not feeling myself but couldn’t say why or what was wrong. My left eye was swollen, I had pins and needles in my left hand (but had been lying on it whilst I slept) and my balance was a little off. I had a rash over my eye and my GP said I had Bell’s palsy and with that was given steroids. However that night, I experienced dizziness like nothing before, I couldn’t walk without assistance, my eyes wouldn’t focus and i vomited. At A&E I continued vomiting, couldn’t sit in a chair without falling out and kept my eyes closed as focusing on people made me feel worse. The CT scan revealed nothing and the Dr’s felt given my age it couldn’t possibly be a stroke. An MRI was arranged for the next day, however it wasn’t until the Sunday I had it and showed a vertebral artery dissection. I was transferred to another hospital to a specialist stroke unit and felt so out of place being the youngest person there. Luckily, my mobility improved and after a total of 3 days in hospital, I was discharged home. There appears to be no real cause of my stroke, my echo was normal, I’ve had a 72 hour tape and I’ve not had an trauma to my neck to have caused it. As my consultant said it could just be one of those things. Since being home, I am terrified of it happening again. I don’t like being alone but at the same time I don’t like having a lot of people around me as I fatigue so quickly. My concentration is horrendous and even writing this has taken me forever to write. I’m feeling frustrated as I still have no sensation down my right side but then get annoyed with myself as I should be grateful that this, the fatigue and concentration is all that’s wrong with me. Yesterday I broke down in tears as it finally all caught up on me and I have only just come to terms with what has happened. Sorry for such a long post I just felt I needed to let it all out and thanks if you’ve taken the time to read this.


Hello Hannah and welcome to forums.

You are among people here who are living with post stroke issues and I have found these forums a great place to give and receive help in my post stroke journey.
Your note about fatigue and concentration is something I also experience and from reading on the forums does seem to be common amongst stroke survivors. I am learning how to manage my time to mitigate the fatigue - planning rest time is a key issue.
Take your time and rest when you need to. :slightly_smiling_face:


Hi Hannah, You are very young to have had a stroke, but doesn’t discriminate. Fatigue and lack of concentration are very common after effects of a stroke. All you can is rest for fatigue and don’t beat yourself up about lack of concentration, it will slowly get better over time. Good luck with your recovery, Moira. :bouquet:

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Welcome. Sorry that you’ve joined us.

The fatigue etc is normal and may go or change over the months.

The fear remains. I spent 2hrs on the fone to 111, the gp & my support nurse this morning, still don’t feel right and I’m 2yrs on

Most days are good, the fear recedes but quickly returns to the surface with sufficient cause.
Just a element of the new normal for me at least

You’re really really early days. Learning your new normal will take a while and the 1st 6months probably won’t have stabilised

You’ve plenty of folk here who will have advice & compassion to give

@HanF welcome but sorry you had a stroke. I had a carotid dissection which caused my stroke but like you no reason for it. I too was worried it would happen again but after a few weeks I decided I could either spend my time worrying about something I have little control over or just try & move forward. Everything you are experiencing is very normal & most of us have the fatigue, emotions, concentration etc. It does improve over time. Stroke recovery needs lots of patience & you’ll need to rest your brain lots too.
Wishing you all the best as you go along your journey.

Best wishes.

Ann x

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Hi @HanF so sorry to hear your story, but youre in the right place. The group here is so understanding and supportive.

I also suffered a stroke from a dissection in my carotid artery with no explanation as to how. I’m just over 2 months in my recovery, and being 31 years old I also did not expect this to happen at such a young age. My Dr told me, in young people a dissection is one of the most common reasons for a stroke, and more than likely the dissesction will heal over time, as will your brain.

Be kind to yourself, you are very early in your recovery journey. You will need plenty of rest and help. I found counselling helped me to come to terms and accept what happened to me. Hopefully u have been given blood thinners to prevent a further stroke from happening.

Praying for you :pray:


Hi @HanF, I had exactly the same type of stroke as you in November 2021. I was 56 at the time. Reading your story is so familiar.
Doctors didn’t believe I had a stroke and it was only after 3 CT scans and me vomiting what they thought was blood that a 4th scan was done and they found the clot. There is no explanation of how or why it happened. Like you I was terrified of it happening again, I experienced terrible fatigue and had no sensation down my right side. The sensation is yet to return.
I had to learn how to walk again, regain my balance and how to eat again. Have you or are you receiving physio? If not contact your GP.
From experience all I would say is try and stay calm. Don’t rush things and don’t fight the fatigue. I found that even the smallest tasks were an effort. When fatigue hits, rest. Don’t try and push through it and that was really hard considering I played 5 a side football and coached junior football so considered myself quite fit. Things will get better, maybe not as quickly as we want but I’m now able to walk around 10 miles and even break out into a little run.
All the best and take care


Shwmae @HanF, your symptoms sound like a cerebellar stroke. I hope our forum can help guide you through the rebuilding process, as it has with me. :grinning:

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Hi Hannah,

Im so sorry to hear what you went through.
I myself had a Stroke on 1 Dec 22, im still off work at the moment, i have good days & bad, i cry i laugh, but best thing i did was join this forum.
At 40 was diagnosed with Dilated Cardiomyopathy (Heart Failure).
At 52 diagnosed with Chrinic Kidney Failure stage 3,due to been given wrong medication, then 53 had Stroke.
I promise you each day you will get stronger, with the love and support of your family,as i did.
Wish you a speedy recovery.

Bev X

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Hello @HanF
Sorry you had to join this forum but you will be glad you did I promise.
My story is very similar to yours, I’m 41 and had my stroke on the 20th January a week after yourself.
My initial CT scan also showed no signs but the MRI and CTA showed my stroke caused by a right Vertebral Artery Dissection.

I have numbness and weakness in my right side and facial pain that I just can’t seem to shake off, to the point now where I’ve just ended up paying my dentist £65 for a deep gum clean to rule that out as a cause to my gum pain.
Silly I know.!

Hannah, I’ve found this forum very supportive and the fear you are going through is very very normal and I feel it too I swear. No matter how many others say they feel the fear it doesn’t make yours go away.
If you ever want to reach out, the best people to rely on are those with similar or same experiences.

I’m sure we soon will be able to offer comfort to others in times of need. X

Reach out if you need to talk to a stranger, I’ve got your back x



So sorry you are here. In May last year, at 45, I had a vertebral artery dissection and a stroke (right medullary infarct). Total shock.
In resuscitation they told me I had FMD, which caused my dissection, which caused my stroke. It’s very helpful to hear from people in this group. Happy to chat anytime if that would help.

Hellk.your experience is almost exactly the same as me,3years ago in march…it will improve,you will get stronger,you will have bad days but good days will happen more often.i was terrifiedcof it happening again but nearly drove myself mad so eventually learnt that you can’t change what’s gojnv to happen so…
Keep going,keep talking to people,keep smillinv when you can and you will improve eventually i’m still struggling with certain things but others are easier now .you can do wishes.xx

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@HanF @Anisa @Mrs5K - I’ m sure you are familiar but there is a carotid dissection Facebook group. Thought I’d share here just in case.


Thank you @AnnieL I will have a look for the group on FB.

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Hi Hannah
So sorry you’re having a bad time.
It will get better and easier.

Take care of yourself .

Love Carol

Hello Han, sorry this happened to you. I’m 37 and had a stroke in November, mine was caused by injuring artery in neck and clot went up to brain. I know exactly how you feel but don’t give up hope. I experienced pretty much same symptoms as you but after op and a bit of time I remained a lot, got mobility back, strength , numbness in left side of face, my eyes were badly affected but slowly coming back, concentration levels have improved as well as coping/managing fatigue. It’s still very very early days for you, but you will improve. All I can say is and I can’t emphasize this enough if it’s possible, stay off work and do nothing too strenuous, your just a number and easily replaceable by work so please take your time, you don’t want to go back too early and find your not well enough, it would be considered and unsuccessful return and will count against your sickness and another episode. After a few months I’m able to go to gym do gentle exercise walking a lot more and you value the little things more take my meds and cholesterol lowering drinks etc, you can do it, just be patient, rest, when you able to do more write a list of what you’d like to do each day and try to achieve them as long as you don’t overexert yourself.

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@Jayman welcome to the forum. Sorry you had a stroke. Mine was caused by a catotid artery dissection - similar to yours?

There’s some very good advice in your post.

Wishing you lots of luck in your recovery journey.

Best wishes


Hi @HanF - Im so sorry to hear you are feeling the way you are. As others have said, your message sounds so familiar - you are not alone in this and nothing you say here is too much or too little. Its such a great community it really is.

I had a Ischemic attack on the rear and my specialist also could not find a reason for it. I was 45 when it happened. All my tests were clear too. That feeling of will it happen again, WILL slowly fade, i can assure you. I still have the hyper sensation down my LHS and i dont think that will go, but im learning to live with it in the hope one day it will.

Im now 9 months post stroke, and my daily life is practically normal. Yes there are tough days but every day seems better than the last. I take it easy when i need to and push myself when i need to… only you can decide that - but certainly dont punish yourself for taking it easy.

Time here is a MASSIVE factor - things will improve as others have said.

I wish you all the best with your recovery - and if your having a bad day, come on here and say so. There is so much help on here to lift your day. I dont post much but i do read, and i get so much comfort from this site.

Best wishes



Yes very similar, basilar artery thrombus with brainstorm stroke and right vertebral dissection. That’s a mouthful had copy it off the notes.

My recovery is fortunately going well compared to many others so I’m lucky, I mainly suffer from neuro fatigue, daziness and forgetfullness if I do too much but getting better.

Hopefully your recovery will be quicker than mine just take your time, and you will get fed up of everyone telling you those words lol

Take care stay confident you’ll get there

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Thank you @AnnieL I will check that out

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