WITH the number of younger people suffering a life-changing stroke on the rise, one Fermanagh patient in her early 30s has spoken of the strong support she has received locally.
Ciara Murray suffered a debilitating stroke last October, when she was 37-weeks-pregnant with her first child. Following months of gruelling rehabilitation the 33-year-old is still suffering from the effects of her stroke, but said she has received overwhelming support from family, friends, and the Fermanagh Stroke Support Group, which she urged other stroke survivors to join.
Ciara, who is originally from Enniskillen and now lives in Coa, said her stroke came out of the blue, and doctors could still not pinpoint its exact cause. It happened at around 11.30am on October 29 last year. At the time Ciara, who was home alone at the time, didn’t realise she’d just had a stroke.
“My husband John didn’t get home from work until that evening, and I was lying there the whole time. I couldn’t get up off the ground,” she said. “I didn’t realise what it was, I thought I had just fainted.”
Ciara was rushed to ICU at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast, where she spent ten days unconscious, also suffering from blood clots on her brain.
“I woke up on November 10, which happened to be John’s birthday,” she recalled.
Her baby son, James, was delivered by the medical team at the hospital the day after Ciara had her stroke, and the young mother said the little bundle of joy had since helped spur on her recovery.
“He’s such a great motivator,” she said proudly, adding John was her rock and her parents, Mary and John Keenan, mother and father-in-law Vera and Seamus, brother Gavin, sister-in-law Sara and her extended family circle had also been incredibly supportive.
It hasn’t been an easy road for Ciara, who is still mid-way through her recovery. When she was well enough she was brought home to Fermanagh, where she spent 10 weeks at the specialist stroke unit a the South West Acute Hospital (SWAH). She could not speak highly enough of the staff and facilities at the unit.
Ciara, who said she was surprised by the number of other young stroke patients she met during her time in hospitals, then spent the next months recovering at the Regional Acquired Brain Injury Unit (RABIU) at Musgrave Hospital, where she remained until April, for whom she was also full of praise.
“They were fantastic,” she said. “Only for them, I wouldn’t be as far on now. It was tough going but I knew it would be.”
Upon her release home, Ciara then joined the Fermanagh Stroke Support Group early in the summer. She still has mobility issues and no movement in one arm, but said she was determined to defy the medics and “prove them all wrong.”
“I’m doing OK. You just have to keep going. Thick wit has got me through it, I’m so determined. If you lie down, you’re done,” she said, adding getting out and meeting people through the support group had helped greatly.
Ciara, John and James would like to thank their families, extended families and friends for all their help and support over the past 12 months. They would also like to thank the A&E at the SWAH, the stroke unit at SWAH, the ICU at the Royal Victoria Hospital, the stroke unit at the Royal Victoria, the HDU at the Royal Victoria, and the RABIU at Musgrave Park.
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