My name is Lisa. I was a busy wife and mum of two from Carrickfergus. I worked fulltime as a Service Manager in a Mental Health Charity, I was always on the go, always busy! Until I took a stroke in February 2021.
I worked throughout the pandemic, I was busier than usual and looking back now I was more stressed than normal, but I thought I would be fine. I was only 46 and I was fit and healthy, and had no underlying health conditions. On the evening I had my stroke, I had just finished work and started to make the dinner when I just didn’t feel well. I had terrible pains in my head, my sight went in my right eye, my speech became disturbed, and I had right sided weakness. Thankfully my husband Pete had just come home from work. He contacted my sister Louise and rang an ambulance.
I was rushed to Antrim Area Hospital where after having CT and MRI scans, I was diagnosed with having had a stroke. My world fell apart. How could this happen to me? I stayed over a week in hospital, and started lifelong medication. These were all new expereinces to me. I was devastated. The symptoms from the stroke were exhausting; I had constant headaches and chronic fatigue, and the anxiety I was experiencing was awful. I began having panic attacks due to the fear of having another stroke. I thought my life was over.
When I got home from hospital, I received a telephone call from Carol at NI Chest Heart and Stroke. She listened to me and offered support. Over the next few weeks and months, I joined Chest Heart and Stroke’s PREP (Post Rehab Education Programme) online course. It was brilliant - we were able to talk openly about how our diagnosis has affected our daily living and how our lives had changed we then worked on ways we could now help ourselves to manage these changes.
I was then offered the opportunity to join the NICHS Taking Control Self-Management online course, too. It has been amazing! We all understood what each other were going through. There was no judgment and the NICHS staff were fantastic - they really are worth their weight in gold! We made action plans and identified goals that we wanted to achieve, we discussed self-management, medication, fatigue, and many more relevant topics. The one thing that really helped me was the Body Scan and deep breathing techniques, I use these techniques now daily and they have really helped my recovery. The people in the group were great, we all just got on so well, we had so much in common, and we understood what each other were going through. Although I have had amazing support from family and friends, it was great to speak to people who knew exactly what I was going through.
When I first attended the Taking Control Group, I thought of myself as a Stroke Victim. I now think of myself a Stroke Survivor, and the NICHS staff supported me every step of the way. I am so grateful for the support I have received from NICHS, they gave me hope when I didn’t have any! Thank you.