An Unexpected Diagnosis

Advocates join the You're the Cure network for all kinds of reasons.  Some, because of a relative or friend who has experienced cardiovascular disease or a stroke.  Others because their interests are even more personal: it has touched them first hand.  Join us and learn more about 28-year-old Brett Patterson, NC resident and passionate advocate for health!

hero_image_alt_text===nurse helping Brett with physical therapy

On a fateful night in August 2017, Brett Patterson enjoyed dinner and dessert with his girlfriend and went to sleep feeling fine.  Then it all took an unexpected turn…he suffered a stroke.

Brett, a seemingly healthy adult, woke up in the dead of night - his arm twitching, soon progressing to paralysis on half his body, and then facial drooping. What happened next is hard for Brett to totally recall.  His girlfriend and his sister accompanied him to the hospital, where they learned that he had suffered a stroke.  He spent days in the intensive care unit, and then moved to rehab.  All the while, Brett just could not understand how a healthy young adult with no warning signs suffered a stroke.  During this time, occupational and physical therapy consumed his days as he taught his arm and leg how to function again.  Yet in the back of his mind, he wondered: why did this happen?

Brett was determined to uncover the real reason for his stroke and sought out Dr. Jodi Dodds at Duke Medical Center.  Finally, Brett was able to learn the previously undiscovered cause and receive a diagnosis.  Without knowing it, that summer Brett had suffered shingles.  Despite recovery, the shingles virus had “gotten into my spinal fluid, causing the brain bleed and thus, causing my stroke.”  He also learned that he endured both a hemorrhagic and ischemic stroke. 

Through the entire process, as Brett celebrates his successes and his achievements from physical and occupational therapy and his successful return to work, he has one message he’d like to relay to all advocates and health champions in North Carolina:

DON’T STOP LOOKING FOR ANSWERS. It would’ve been easy for me to accept the
unknown etiology 
and just move on with my life. However, I needed the answers,
if not for myself, for my family, 
and everyone who spent countless hours by
my side helping me 
through this difficult time. 

Although my diagnosis is rare and may not be relevant to all, 
I encourage any stroke survivor without answers as to what caused his/her
stroke to explore all options. Seek a second opinion. 
Ask if there are case studies
published that 
might relate to your stroke. Don’t stop until you are satisfied
I found my answers, and with the right help and guidance, 
you might find yours as well.

It is so important to be your own health champion, and do not settle until you feel like you completely understand your diagnosis and treatment plan.

Brett is sharing his story and has joined You’re the Cure so he can advocate for strong public health policies - and help people understand why research is so important.  Join us, and make a difference alongside amazing advocates like Brett!


Brett shares his full story here, and we can guarantee it is a story you won’t want to miss in its entirety!

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