CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Brett Patterson, 28, is back to work. Thursday marks his first day back since he suffered a stroke in August.
"I couldn't feel the entire left side of my body," he remembers.
He says his girlfriend woke up to see him twitching, then she noticed his face had drooped. "It was just kind of shocking," Patterson says.
During a five-week hospital stay, doctors were at a loss. For 28 years, Patterson had always been healthy. "I had never been to the hospital to be honest," the young man says.
He recalls being just as confused about the source of his stroke. "I thought it was something with the elderly, that it only affected the elderly."
But on the return home from the hospital, it was time for a second opinion. "I really felt like for everyone that's been involved and for myself, I need to figure out what this is," he says.
A Duke doctor, Dr. Jodi Dodds, specializes in young stroke patients, and finally came up with a cause.
"She called and said it hit me, I think I know what this was," Patterson says.
The cause, shingles. Something that had been misdiagnosed in Patterson weeks earlier, as a rash or poison ivy. "It got into my spinal fluid, traveled up, and caused a brain bleed," he says.
Now Patterson wants to warn other patients, of all ages. "Keep searching for answers and seek a second opinion," he said.
As he continues his road to recovery, another tip.
"Get the shingles vaccination if you qualify for it," he said.