‘I was terrified I wouldn’t be able to cope with Cindy’
Suzanne McCullough, from Bangor, was on life support for five days after she suffered a stroke aged 37 in May 2013. She is a single mum to Cindy (1) and has three other children with her ex-husband. She says:
One day I felt extremely unwell, so I went to the hospital where I was kept overnight for tests as it was unclear how ill I was. Initially, scans showed I had a tumour which the doctors believed was inoperable.
While I was in hospital I fell off the bed and ended up on life support for five days, none of which I can recall.
A week after I returned home from hospital, the doctors called to say I had suffered a stroke.
My speech was badly affected and I lost the power down the right side of my body. Now, I feel completely dependent on others and it has turned my life upside down.
I needed a lot of speech therapy afterwards and while my speech has gradually returned, I still have difficulties with words which is embarrassing.
Thanks to medical treatment, my health improved to the point where I met a new partner — now my ex — and have a one-year-old baby girl, Cindy. I didn’t have any health complications during my pregnancy other than a limp which got worse towards the birth.
I was terrified that I wouldn’t be able to cope with Cindy because of my limited movement.
When she was born, though, it just seemed natural for me to want to hold her.
Now she’s starting to run around and it is hard to keep up with her.
However, a daily exercise regime which was recommended for me by a physio is helping my movement improve.
Having previously been right-handed I now write with my left and for feeding Cindy, too.
While I don’t tell people that I’ve had a stroke, some notice my speech and lack of movement. Now, though, my priority is to create as normal a life as possible for Cindy and I. I still need a lot of help, but fortunately, I have my mum, sisters, friends and the local support group.”
Find out more about the stroke support that Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke offers.