Malaysian woman says late nights and alcohol led to a stroke in her 20s, paralysing half of her face

Yvonne Wen shared her story in a Facebook post on Oct 28.
Facebook / Yvonne Wen

Late-night drinking sessions and other unhealthy habits eventually take their toll on the human body, and one Malaysian woman says she’s the living example of that.

Yvonne Wen, a Penang native, said in an Oct 28 Facebook post that she was diagnosed with a stroke which left her half of her face paralysed. The shocking part? She was only in her 20s.

Her post spread like wildfire and has since gone viral, garnering over 16,000 shares.

In Wen’s post, she recalled how her paralysed face resulted in food “leaking” out of her mouth, as well as the inability to speak clearly and to fully close her right eye.

Wen, who is a clerk, confessed that she ignored the early symptoms, assuming that it was unlikely for young people to suffer from stroke or any other serious diseases.

The first symptoms appeared about a year before the stroke occurred, when she started having persistent fever and swelling on her face, which she said made her head look like that of a pig.

Despite that, she brushed her symptoms off, choosing to self-medicate with over-the-counter medicine instead. After that, her fever and swelling subsided in a few days, she said.

Little did she know that her ordeal had just begun.

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Before she knew it, she could no longer smile or display any facial expression. Her face was numb and one of her eyes was half-closed all the time.

A doctor said she had suffered a stroke, but she did not believe it could be true – until the second and third doctors she consulted also gave the same diagnosis.

Her wake-up call came when one of the doctors told her: “Don’t take your youth for granted and neglect your health. There will be a price to pay.”

“Your stroke could be caused by insufficient sleep, stress, diet and lack of exercise,” the doctor added.

This was when she realised that she had been neglecting her health.

Dr Paul Chiam, a cardiologist at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital told Business Insider: “Fortunately the risk of a young person having a stroke is very low, except for those born with abnormal swelling of blood vessels in the brain or those born with a patent foramen ovale in the heart.”

Frequent partying and drinking usually do not lead to a stroke, but heavy smoking or consuming recreational drugs could potentially raise one’s blood pressure, Dr Chiam added.

Wen just happened to be one of the rarest cases.

Like many of her peers, her lifestyle involved frequent late-night movies, alcohol, consuming oily foods and having supper every night. To top it all off, she did not exercise at all.

Read also: Not getting enough sleep seems to be even more deadly than we thought, new studies show

“The happiness was short-lived,” she wrote in her Facebook post. After just one year of living this way, her body was in trouble.

While she declined to reveal her age, Wen told Business Insider that the incident happened “one to two years ago”.

She finally saw light after she was introduced to a doctor in Singapore. The doctor helped adjust her diet, prescribed medication and provided massages to help her recover.

In just six months, Wen saw improvements and she was able to smile again.

But the doctor warned her to take even better care of her health as stroke sufferers are susceptible to relapses.

No family history of stroke

While family history contributes to the likelihood of getting a stroke, Wen told Business Insider that her family’s medical history only included cancer and diabetes, and that none of her relatives had suffered from a stroke before.

In her Facebook post, Wen provided sage advice to social media users: get sufficient sleep, watch your diet, exercise more, find an outlet to release stress and avoid consuming cold drinks.

Most importantly, a person should always see a doctor if they are feeling unwell, she said.

Wen told Business Insider that she hopes her misfortune serves as a wake-up call to young people like her, because one’s age does not provide immunity against sicknesses.

After turning her life around, Wen could finally upload a photo of herself smiling widely. And while many people take that for granted, it’s something she’s very grateful for.

Read also: Saunas can reduce stroke risk