Wendy Vrijdag suffered a sinus thrombosis and cerebral hemorrhage

Wendy Vrijdag suffered a sinus thrombosis and cerebral hemorrhage
Wendy Vrijdag suffered a sinus thrombosis and cerebral hemorrhage

April 2, 2024

‘I have a more relaxed approach to life’

A sinus thrombosis and cerebral hemorrhage abruptly changed the life of Wendy Vrijdag-Voogt (49) in 2021. Three years later, she mainly looks at what she can still do. Also in the field of work.

Childcare is an environment with many stimuli, whether it concerns the little ones in the daycare center or school-age children in after-school care (out-of-school care). Wendy Vrijdag felt like a fish in water as a pedagogical employee at both locations. Until she was struck by a sinus thrombosis and cerebral hemorrhage in April 2021. She calls it pure bad luck; she got it as a result of a corona infection, for which she also ended up in the hospital. Both physically and mentally, she suffered from sinus thrombosis and cerebral hemorrhage, which partly limited her work as a pedagogical employee.

“In addition to physical complaints, I also suffered mental damage. In May 2023 I went to the neuropsychologist and tests showed that I have an emotion disorder. A person can distinguish many types of emotions, but I have lost some of them due to the damage in my brain. At first I had no emotion at all. For example, I had to learn to love again. The emotions that I now recognize in myself are joy and happiness on the one hand and disappointment and irritation on the other. Anger and sadness still mean nothing to me. I know the concept, recognize it in others, but I don’t feel it myself. This can be especially difficult for others, because I sometimes react in a surprising way. For example, I think that I am reacting irritated, but others say that they understand from my attitude and the way I talk that I am angry. With intense therapy I can get some emotions back, but that takes me all day long. I don’t think it’s worth it.”

“About eleven months after the sinus thrombosis and cerebral haemorrhage, I was able to return to work in childcare. I really wanted to return to the toddlers, but I discovered that I no longer have any interest in the age group from zero to three. I didn’t know what to say to those kids. That was a completely new experience, because I always knew very well how to approach this group. I immediately indicated to my manager that I only wanted to work with the older age groups. Things are actually still going well with children aged four and over.

My colleagues know my situation and I have also asked them to indicate if I am being a bit rude, to them or to the children. Due to this reduced empathy, my limits are a lot lower than I was used to, but according to some colleagues, children could actually go quite far with me. So a little less empathy might not be so bad.”

Thrombosis due to corona
“In March 2021 I contracted the delta variant of corona and ended up in hospital. Once back home I first got a bad headache and two days later a strange feeling in my right arm. According to the GP, these were residual symptoms of the corona. On April 6, I could barely climb stairs and I became unwell in the kitchen. I could just scream. My daughters were at home, heard me and called 911. The paramedics thought it was a stroke, also because I had loss of function on my right side. The scans in the hospital showed that I had sinus thrombosis and a cerebral hemorrhage. On top of that I had an epileptic attack. The neurologist said that my body reacted completely wrong to the corona.

I was 46 and to be honest I didn’t even know what a thrombosis was. I sometimes read in a package leaflet that a medicine gave an increased risk of thrombosis, but I didn’t think about that further. I notice around me that there is little knowledge about thrombosis, what exactly it means and what it can cause.”

“I was in hospital for nine days, spent five weeks in a rehabilitation center and ten weeks of outpatient rehabilitation. Some things had happened in my head, connections were broken, which caused me to have problems with my emotions, among other things. My husband asked how we could improve that. The neuropsychologist advised us to go out a lot, especially to places we had never been. This would stimulate my brain and find new ways to make connections. We tried that out and it worked.

I have dealt with what was given to me as much as possible. I wanted to get everything I could out of my recovery. I didn’t want to think later: I wish I had done that then… So I started walking with my youngest daughter again, something we did during the first lockdown. But now I had to sit in a wheelchair and she pushed me forward. I found that difficult at first, but when I think back about it now, I especially remember the moments when we laughed out loud together.

I was born with a lack of oxygen, which has always caused me to have a spasm in my left leg. Due to the thrombosis and cerebral hemorrhage, I now also have a spasm in my right leg. Once every six months I receive shockwave therapy, which paralyzes my calf muscles. They need about six months to recover, so the spasm is a lot less during that period. As a result, I can walk quite well and even go to the gym three to four times a week. The more I move, the better my stability is. The moment I notice that it is becoming more difficult for me to walk and it is more difficult to get up, then I know it is time for a new shockwave session.”

To enjoy
“I have accepted the situation. That gives me a lot of peace. I was afraid at first that acceptance would lead to me not progressing at all. During a holiday in September 2023, I noticed that I was too preoccupied with everything I could not do and with the emotions I was missing. As a result, I didn’t have enough space to think about the things I can do and therefore missed the beautiful things around me. I also want to pass this on to others, and especially our daughters, aged twenty and eighteen: enjoy life, get the most out of it, in a fun way. Make beautiful memories.

Despite all the misery, this situation has brought me more positive things than I expected. I feel much less that I really have to do certain things when I am free. What is not important can be done another time if I don’t feel like it at that moment. I don’t know the word ‘fast’ anymore. Quickly doing this or that no longer works for me. To be honest, that’s actually nice. This makes me more relaxed in life.”

Thrombosis occurs at all ages. Read more about it in our magazine.

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The article is in Dutch

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