When This 28-Year-Old Woman Took A Selfie, She Never Imagined It Would End Up Saving Her Life

On the morning of August 23, 2019, Stephanie Farnan was preparing for what looked to be a fairly normal day. After getting up, the mom started to get ready for work, before snapping a selfie on her cell phone. Unbeknown to her, though, that innocuous action would ultimately save her life.

A resident of Enniscorthy, Ireland, Stephanie’s life had taken a rather exciting turn prior to that fateful morning. For you see, the 28-year-old’s young son, Oscar, was starting his elementary school education at the time. So on that note, she needed to devise a morning routine, like most moms do.

In order for Stephanie to get to work on time, she enlisted the help of her parents, Helen and Frank. The mother planned to take Oscar to their house, before starting her day as a “mental health unit multi-tasker.” From there, her son would be dropped off at school by his grandparents.

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That routine appeared to be working at first, with Stephanie and her folks getting into the swing of things. And the morning of August 23 didn’t seem any different, as Oscar’s mom was on her phone while preparing for the day ahead. However, one simple selfie proved to be absolutely crucial in saving her life.

In the last few years, more and more features have been added to cell phones, much to the delight of owners across the world. But it’s sometimes easy to forget just how useful some of the earlier additions still are. For instance, the built-in cameras continue to be embraced by most of us on a daily basis.

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Indeed, thanks to camera phones, we’re now able to snap pictures throughout the day, wherever we may be. We can then, in turn, also share those snaps on social media at the touch of a button. As a result, the selfie has really come to the fore, with users taking full advantage of their portable devices.

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In the past, self-portrait photographs weren’t as simple to capture as they are now.Due to the way cameras were built, we had to rely on features like remote controls and timers to snap the perfect selfie, as the viewfinder was on the back of the unit. But today we have no such worries, with the front-facing camera option making it very easy.

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However, in February 2016 a shocking story emerged in Great Britain, after a woman took a rather unorthodox selfie at work. Nadine Rash is a resident of Kent, England, and, when she took the picture, worked for a local optometrist. Her position was that of a retinal screener in the town of Bexleyheath.

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Given Rash’s experience at the optometrist, she felt the need to use one of the retinal cameras for herself. She was having problems with her left eye at that time, so she decided to check it out with the aforementioned tool. In the end, it was a decision that potentially saved her life.

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Speaking to the Association of Optometrist’s website in February 2016, Rash recalled what happened next. “On photographing my left eye,” she said, “I saw instantly that my optic disc was incredibly swollen, undefined and had inflamed hemorrhages.” In the screener’s mind that could only mean one thing, as we’re about to discover.

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Rash continued, “I was shocked to see what looked like papilledema ‒ swollen optic nerves ‒ something which is potentially life threatening if left untreated. After seeing it, I rushed to one of my colleagues who confirmed the severity of the symptom.” At that stage, the colleague in question revealed a bit more.

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Once Rash looked over the selfie, she took it to a man named Gordon Ilett, who was a director at her optometrist office. After he saw the picture, Ilett then urged the Kent resident to seek help at another facility. Eventually, he sent her off to King’s College Hospital in London.

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“Optometrists are trained to identify abnormalities with vision and general health,” Ilett told the medical website of his profession. “It’s part of our daily routine. On seeing Nadine’s selfie it was clear she had papilledema. Periodic examinations can pick up a lot of these problems before they become more serious.”

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From there, Rash underwent a couple of tests at the hospital to find out what was causing the swelling. Thankfully for her, the doctors ruled out the possibility of a brain bleed or a tumor, but the diagnosis was still fairly serious. The screener was suffering from a condition known as idiopathic intracranial hypertension.

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As explained on the National Health Service website, “Intracranial hypertension (I.H.) is the medical name for a build-up of pressure around the brain. It can come on suddenly – for example, as the result of a severe head injury, stroke or brain abscess. This is known as acute I.H. It can also be a persistent, long-lasting problem – known as chronic I.H.”

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Regarding the condition, if a cause can’t be determined by doctors then the issue is referred to as idiopathic I.H. And that’s the position Rash found herself in at the hospital. Following the diagnosis, she stayed there for the rest of the evening, before heading back home the next day.

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Rash was subsequently provided with some medicine by her physicians to help lessen the excess fluid in her body. In the end, the medication did its job and brought down the swelling considerably. Meanwhile, another optometrist shared their thoughts on the shocking situation, which all stemmed from the selfie.

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Talking to the Association of Optometrists website, Geoff Roberson said, “Fortunately in Nadine’s case, early detection resulted in immediate treatment and no further threat to her health. Eyes are often described as the window to the soul. But many people are unaware that eyes are also the window to the body.”

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Some three years on from that story, a somewhat similar tale emerged in the summer of 2019. As we previously mentioned, Stephanie Farnan took a selfie while she was getting ready for work one August morning. And that photo went on to play a major role in diagnosing an unexpected tragedy.

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Looking back on that fateful morning, Stephanie’s parents were awaiting her arrival as per normal. However, the Enniscorthy resident didn’t turn up, leaving Helen and Frank a little concerned. From there, the latter made his way over to her house, as he looked to check on his daughter and grandson.

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Unfortunately for Frank, nothing could prepare him for what transpired next. You see, when he arrived at Stephanie’s house, he found her unconscious in the bedroom, while Oscar remained asleep. With his daughter not having turned up in time for the little boy to get to school, the concerned father got to her house at 8.35 a.m. At that point, someone else turned up to help.

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Following Frank’s discovery, Stephanie’s older brother Sean also went to the house, trying to piece together what happened. In order to do that, he looked through his sister’s cell phone, where he picked up on some important information. Just before 8.00 a.m., the sibling noted that she’d sent a text message to one of her friends.

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That’s not all, though, as we’re about to discover. Sean also found the selfie that Stephanie had taken that morning, which was snapped at 8.21 a.m., mere minutes before Frank arrived. In the image, the mom’s left eye was shut, while her right eye appeared somewhat bleary and tired.

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Sean then shared that vital information with doctors after Stephanie was taken to the local hospital for treatment. As it turned out, the 28-year-old mom had suffered a life-threatening stroke that morning. Such was the event’s severity, it’s believed that just ten percent of people in her position would pull through.

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But in Stephanie’s case, her brother’s quick-thinking was absolutely crucial in preventing her death. By providing those specific times from her phone to the physicians, medical staff were then able to map out their approach to treating the mom. After all, time is very much a factor when someone falls victim to a stroke.

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Reflecting on those vital moments at the hospital, Stephanie’s other sibling Francis opened up to the Enniscorthy Guardian newspaper. He said, “Only for [that discovery, the doctors] might not have given her anti-clotting medication, because after a certain amount of time that can do more harm than good. So it really did save her life.”

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However, Stephanie wasn’t out of the woods at that stage. Indeed, the doctors at Wexford General Hospital feared that the mom could still die before she received a life-saving operation at another facility. She was, in fact, due to be transported to a hospital in Beaumont, more than 85 miles away.

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Thankfully for Stephanie, she survived the journey to Beaumont, as well as the surgery. Once she was there, the doctors performed what’s known as an “angio-seal procedure,” which halted the bleeding that led to the stroke. As for what caused this to happen in the first place, physicians were able to share the answers a little later.

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Unknown to Stephanie, it turned out that her heart had a hole in it. That, though, wasn’t the sole cause of the stroke. At the time, the Irish mom was also wearing a “contraceptive patch.” In the opinion of her doctors, the reaction from that item, along with her heart condition, set everything in motion.

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Meanwhile, Stephanie sat down for an interview with The Irish Sun newspaper in September 2019, just a few weeks after her near-death experience. And over the course of that conversation, she touched upon several topics, including her memories of what transpired that morning. Yet that’s not all, as we’re about to find out.

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Stephanie told the local publication, “I was lucky in the way that it worked out. It was daytime so all the doctors were on duty in Wexford General Hospital, and again in Beaumont Hospital after I was transferred there. I don’t remember taking the picture or anything from that morning.”

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“I just remember getting up and getting a head-rush,” Stephanie explained. “And the next thing I remember is waking up in [the] ICU in Beaumont.” From there, the mom reflected on her recovery, which has some way to go yet. She’s currently struggling with the vision in her right eye, sporting a patch under her glasses.

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Alongside that, Stephanie also has to rely on a walking stick to get around. And while the mom may be on the mend, she’s due to go under the knife once again. This time, it’s to fix her heart problem. But despite those massive challenges, the mom is receiving plenty of support from her family, especially young Oscar.

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Stephanie revealed, “[Oscar is] pushing me on each day. If I didn’t have that, I don’t know where I’d be.” She then spoke about the symptoms she felt before the stroke, adding, “My vision in one eye was off for a day or two. I was putting it down to tiredness or not wearing my glasses enough.”

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“I didn’t think it was the kind of thing to go to the doctor about,” Stephanie admitted. Furthermore, another hurdle has been placed on the 28-year-old’s road to recovery. Unlike other jobs out there, she won’t be given any sick pay for the time she has off, with her present condition sidelining her for now.

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Given those financial issues, Stephanie’s family went on to make a heartfelt decision. “We decided to set up a GoFundMe page [to] help cover the costs involved in helping her recover,” Francis told the Enniscorthy Guardian. “The house will need to be modified and her car will also need to be modified as well.”

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The page was published at the start of September 2019 with a goal of €10,000, the equivalent of around $11,000. Since then, more than half of the total has been raised by over 200 users, as the donations continue to come in. The fundraising post has also been shared just under 1,000 times online.

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Following the creation of the GoFundMe page, a number of users left their own messages of support, with one really standing out. The individual wrote, “I donate because no human being should live in misery. It can happen to any one of us, and I’d be glad if people would help me, too. Wish you the best, Steph.”

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But that didn’t signal the end of the Farnans’ fundraising efforts. For you see, October 29 marks World Stroke Day, and the family want to bring in more money for the cause. Once they’ve generated the cash, Stephanie and her clan will then pass it on to both Wexford General Hospital and Beaumont Hospital.

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Meanwhile, Stephanie had one last thing to say on the matter during her talk with The Irish Sun. Reflecting on how close she came to passing away, the young mother concluded, “My mammy and the rest of the family was told I wasn’t going to make it and to prepare for the worst. I’m not allowed out of anyone’s sight now!”

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