I thought too much sunshine was making me ill… but I was having a stroke

I thought too much sunshine was making me ill… but I was having a stroke

ELIZABETH Frost was in Lanzarote with pal Lisa Coles to celebrate the start of the last year of her forties when she began to feel groggy and numb down her left side.

The single mum collapsed and, to her horror, found she couldn’t speak, see or move. She was rushed to hospital, where doctors suspected she had had a mini-stroke.

Elizabeth Frost, 49, was enjoying a holiday in Lanzarote with a pal when she began to feel numb on one side
The single mum collapsed, and was soon rushed to hospital where doctors suspected she suffered a stroke

Her mobility slowly started to return following treatment but it was two weeks until she was well enough to fly home.

A month on, she still has weakness in her left eye, struggles to walk and her mouth still droops — and she is terrified of suffering another stroke.

Elizabeth, 49, who is on leave from her job as an RAF secretary and lives with her son Aiden, 29, and his girlfriend Kiri, 28, says: “We’d been shopping and although I’d had a nap before dinner, I felt out of sorts in the restaurant.

“When the pain started in my head, I just assumed it was a headache coming on from too much sun, so I took Ibuprofen and went to sleep.

Months later, Elizabeth started to regain her mobility but still she struggles to walk

“But I could barely sleep because of this niggling pain behind my ear. When I woke the next day — my 49th birthday — I didn’t feel right.

“I went out to Lisa on the balcony and tried to talk to her but she said my right eye was blinking and the left eye wasn’t.

“I suddenly felt my left side go numb and as I started to collapse, everything went black. It’s scary not knowing what happened or why. I am terrified it could happen again.”

Staff at the hotel in Puerto del Carmen called an ambulance, which took Elizabeth to hospital.

Elizabeth says her speech is still not back to normal and it is difficult to open and close her left eye


A STROKE is a brain attack, and happens when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted

  • There are two different types of stroke
  • An ischaemic stroke is the most common, and is caused by a blockage cutting off the blood supply to the brain
  • In contrast a haemorrhagic stroke is caused by bleeding in or around the brain
  • Furthermore, there is such a thing as a mini-stroke, or transient ischaemic attack (TIA)
  • The blockages that trigger a TIA are temporary and therefore the symptoms last for a much shorter period of time

A CT scan indicated she had suffered a transient ischemic attack — a mini-stroke — caused by the blood supply to the brain temporarily being disrupted.

Elizabeth says: “I was terrified. I thought I was dying. Ambulances in Lanzarote aren’t allowed to have family or friends in, so Lisa had to follow us to the hospital and I was alone.

“I couldn’t move, speak or see. All I could hear was the ambulance crew speaking Spanish. I don’t know Spanish so nobody could tell me what was happening. It was horrendous. I can hardly remember anything.

“My brain was scrambled. The left side of my mouth had dropped so much that I couldn’t form any words. Asking questions was impossible. Doctors had to stick down my left eyelid with a plaster so I could sleep that night.

Use the FAST test to spot the signs of a stroke
Twitter/Chorley & Royal Preston
She took her first steps on July 7 after the stroke using an assisted walker

“I had high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, so they gave me medication to lower them as well as drugs to prevent clotting and steroids to help relax my facial muscles.”

Elizabeth was not well enough to fly home as planned on July 5 and after a tearful goodbye with Lisa, an insurance administrator, she was on her own.

An MRI test and lumbar puncture didn’t help doctors determine what had happened but slowly Elizabeth’s mobility started to return.

She took her first steps on July 7 using an assisted walker but there was a long way to go. She says: “I was unsteady and my left leg felt really heavy.

She tried to alert pal Lisa of her concern but found she was unable to speak

“I remember holding myself up on the sink in the wet room, trying to drain toothpaste out of my mouth as I couldn’t spit.

“I looked in the mirror and sobbed through my one working eye. My independence had been taken away but I was determined to get it back.”

Elizabeth was discharged from hospital on July 11 and once her insurance had come through, she flew back to London’s Stansted Airport a week later.

She says: “It was a relief to get home but I’ve a long way to go. I’m using a walker and my face is still partially paralysed.

“My speech is not back to normal and I struggle to open and close my left eye. I haven’t been able to go back to work. Aiden and Kiri are great helping me around the house.”

She adds: “Every time I feel poorly, I’ll have that fear in the back of my head that this could be happening again.

“I’m trying to stay positive. I’ve even booked to go back to Lanzarote in September to do my birthday again. Hopefully it’ll be better this time around.”

Spotting the signs

USE the “FAST” test:

Face: Can they smile? Has their face fallen on one side?

Arms: Can they raise both arms and keep them there?

Speech: Can they speak clearly? Are they slurring?

Time: If so, it’s time to call 999.

  •  Visit stroke.org.uk.


  • GOT a story? Ring The Sun on 0207 782 4104 or WHATSAPP on 07423720250 or email exclusive@the-sun.co.uk.


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