A mum has revealed how having sex with her husband led to her having a stroke that left her permanently paralysed and wheelchair bound.
Lucinda Allen, 38, from Stourbridge in the West Midlands, a small town 125 miles north-west of London, found herself on the brink of death after she was hit by an excruciating headache after climaxing with her engineer husband Tony five years ago.
At the time, the mom-to-be was six months into her pregnancy and went in a medically-induced a coma after a series of strokes left her permanently paralysed down her left side.
Headaches after sex weren’t uncommon for Allen, but on that fateful day, she experienced a sharp pain above her right eye that left her unable to sleep.
She said: “I was writhing on the bed in agony and crying when Tony phoned my mum.” “I’ve experienced what’s known as post-orgasm ‘thunderclap head-pain’ all through my adult life.”
“The pain I usually have after orgasm is a bit like brain-freeze – quite painful but never lasts long.” “But after a while, I realised it just wasn’t going away.”
She was rushed to the hospital in Birmingham, England’s second-largest city, in an ambulance and said she started to panic when she was unable to speak.
Allen said: “I thought I might be having a brain haemorrhage. After that, it was a blur. All I remember is confusion, dreams, and reality mixed together, fear ….”
She was put into an induced coma to let her brain rest and during that time, she had brain surgery – a craniotomy where part of her skull was cut open to release the pressure on her brain.
The doctors were worried that the baby was going to need to be delivered and there was an emergency delivery team on standby.
Fortunately, further scans revealed the baby was fine and after six days, Allen finally emerged from the coma, but paralyzed.
Allen said: “Waking after a coma is nothing like it is in the movies. It’s a slow and confusing process.” “I was extremely distressed – suicidal at times – and I refused to acknowledge that I‘d survived a stroke.”
Allen had in fact survived a series of strokes: one initial stroke, followed by four more while scans were being performed. After a further three months in the hospital, Allen was allowed home for two days, then after that she was straight back in for a planned C-section.
Husband Tony was by her side all the way through, and was on hand to help when baby daughter Marri-Alice, now an energetic 4-year-old, was born on November 19, 2012.
Allen revealed she would love to run around the park with her daughter like the other moms do with theirs, but because she’s now wheelchair-bound and that’s just not possible.
Referring to the way her face had collapsed after the stroke, she said: “The only bit of me that’s spontaneously recovered is my ‘wonk-face!’” “I am totally paralyzed down my left side. I’m a full-time wheelchair-user.”
The mom hopes that stem cell therapy could one day help her regain some of her movement, but she wonders if her paralysis could have been prevented.
She said: “Nobody talks about post-orgasm head-pain and that’s understandable.”
“But, because of what’s happened to me, I am now on a mission to raise awareness of how this pain can be a warning sign of impending brain hemorrhage.”
“Because of it, I have lost a huge part of ‘me’ – my career, any siblings my daughter may have had, my plans for the future.”
Allen’s neurosurgeon Alessandro Palazzo assured her that there was no need to worry about it happening again in the future and that, scary though it was, they shouldn’t give up on their love life.
He advised: “Although Lucinda’s condition is very unusual in that it presented in pregnancy and caused a bleed inside the brain, people who suffer from HSA (headache associated with sexual activity) should be aware that the headache could be the sign of an underlying condition.”
“If you get a headache during or after sex and the pain is severe, you should seek immediate medical attention, as this could be a sign that a brain hemorrhage has taken place. If it’s the first time you’ve experienced post-coital head-pain, it’s advisable to see your doctor.”
“If the pain persists, go to the emergency room of your nearest hospital. If the post-coital head-pain has happened before - if it’s an episodic occurrence - and you’re concerned, get advice from a neurologist and maybe get an MRI scan, just to rule out any underlying conditions or vascular malformation.”
Allen said: “I’m lucky to be here at all.” “All I want now is to make other people aware of this terrifying condition. I think if people are aware, they’ll know to deal with it quickly when it strikes.”
“Although I’m happy, I wouldn’t wish what I’ve been through on anyone. I don’t want what’s happened to me to happen to anyone else.”
“What happened has changed me for the better. I appreciate every moment and, after the birth of my daughter and the amazing support my family and friends have given me, I now have a better understanding of what real love is.”
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