Patient story: "Everyday was a new challenge."

Having a stroke on the first day of his summer holiday was the last thing Stephen Harnet expected, especially as he was a healthy 32-year-old at the time.

I'd taken my wife and baby boy for a week in Spain. We'd been there less than 12 hours when I collapsed on the street. I was rushed to a hospital in Barcelona and I lay there in a coma for 72 hours.

It turned out that the stroke was due to a condition I was born with called AVM (arteriovenous malformation), which is a tangle of abnormal blood vessels (arteries and veins), and can affect the brain and lead to a stroke.

Hospital staff didn't think I was going to make it during those critical hours. They kept saying to my wife "no good, no good". I don't know how she kept it together.

Luckily, I did pull through. I had a life-saving operation on my brain and was thenair-ambulanced home to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, where I spent the next three months.

I don't remember much about that time, but I do recall a lot of people saying I might not walk or talk again. But those words of doubt spurred me on; I was determined to lead a normal life.

Every day I faced a new challenge, but as the weeks went by I accomplished so much. The more I succeeded the more I wanted to do. I even shocked medical staff by becoming a dad again, which they had said I wouldnt be able to do.

Before the stroke I was a technical manager working 12-hour days, seven days a week. I knew I wouldn't be able to do that again. I took a computer course and applied for administrative jobs. Now I have a paid part-time job as a medical records assistant at my rehabilitation centre.

I also do voluntary work with other stroke victims. When I was really poorly it gave me so much hope when I met people whod had the same experience but had turned their lives around. I wanted to do the same for others. I truly believe that positivity is the best medicine theres only so much that medicine can do.

I have been through a hard time, but I really believe that, in some ways, my stroke made me a better person. I now know what's important in life and try to enjoy every minute.

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 13 Jan 2015