A mum is lucky to be alive after Spanish doctors diagnosed her with food poisoning – when she actually had a bleed on the brain.
Caroline Johnson, 42, was on holiday in Majorca with her family when she had to go to bed with a headache after she experienced what felt like a “smack” to the head.
She was forced to retreat to her hotel room and was in such agony she started throwing up and just looking at sunlight was torture.
Mum-of-two Caroline thought she had sun stroke, but the hotel reception called a doctor when the pain became too much to bear at 4am.
The medic said she simply had a dodgy holiday tummy caused by food poisoning – and exhausted Caroline flew home in agony.
But back in the UK – and a WEEK after the symptoms started – she collapsed and scans revealed she’d actually suffered a subarachnoid haemorrhage on holiday.
A type of stroke, it’s caused by an artery in the brain bursting and the bleeding can even kill brain cells.
Baffled doctors couldn’t believe she had endured seven days with a bleed on the brain, and she was rushed in for surgery.
A year on, the former housekeeper from Sheffield is returning to the same hotel in Majorca to “celebrate being alive”.
Caroline, who has sons Jay, nine and Kye, six, said: “It was unbelievable that I’d survived a haemorrhage for seven days. The doctors said that shouldn’t have been the case.
“I’d not been doing anything out of the ordinary. I was just enjoying a wonderful break away from England with my hubby and kids.
“I nipped inside to change for the beach when I felt a smack on the back of my head – or something like it, anyway – which is common for brain stuff.
“The doctor said the headache was probably just food poisoning – which is super serious, mind you, but not what it really turned out to be.
“At every point, I was misdiagnosed, so all I could trust on to get myself checked up properly was myself and me knowing my body.
“I’m glad I persevered – for my sake, but also for Jay and Kye.”
Caroline felt a “smack on the back of my head” at around 12pm on June 7 last year, and went to lie down in her room at Cala Ferrera Hotel, she said.
Hubby Phillip, 46 looked after their sons while Caroline rested.
“The sunlight caused me so much pain that all I could think to do was call the reception,” she said.
“I stayed indoors vomiting and lying down.”
Around 4am the next day, Caroline woke up “feeling so unwell” and asked the concierge to send up a doctor.
“I thought I was dying,” she said.
When she described how she was feeling, the doctor misdiagnosed the brain haemorrhage as a serious bout of food poisoning, she said.
Caroline said she was “surprised that something like that could be food poisoning”, but thought nothing more of his “hasty decision” and paid him around £240.
The next day, on her journey back to the UK, Caroline’s condition deteriorated and said the drive Gatwick to Sheffield was “the longest of my life”.
A few days on, she was still being sick and developed double vision, but said she contacted opticians who turned her away.
But she was rushed to Northern General Hospital after she collapsed at a friend’s house and a CT scan revealed she had a subarachnoid haemorrhage – a stroke caused by bleeding on the surface of the brain.
A vessel in the right side of her brain had bulged from an aneurysm, typically caused by high blood pressure or particular physical effort or strain.
She was transferred to Royal Hallamshire Hospital and underwent a two hour procedure where tiny platinum coils sealed off the aneurysm from the main artery.
Caroline was discharged after 10 days in intensive care, but requires having MRI scans every six months.
She no longer works and said her recovery has been “painful and slow”, and she still has difficulty speaking.
But she said she feels “blessed and lucky to be alive”, so the family is going back to the Cala Ferrera Hotel in Majorca this month to “celebrate being alive”.