Lisa Lecky from Belfast was pregnant with her second child Orla (9 months) when she suffered a stroke following surgery for a brain aneurysm.
“I was fit and healthy before this happened. I was into yoga and jogged most days. I was about eight weeks pregnant with my daughter Orla when I collapsed while out jogging on March 4, 2015.
I can’t remember it but I was told later that I needed surgery to stop the bleeding in my brain. Then two days later there was more surgery to remove part of my skull to relieve the swelling. I had a stroke in between these two ops.
When I came round in the RVH, I was extremely agitated because my one-year-old son Conor was at home and needed me. It was heartbreaking not being able to be with him.
I was in the brain injury unit RABIU at Musgrave Hospital for five months of my pregnancy and was out just for two weeks before I went back to hospital for a planned C-section.
Apart from recovering from two major operations on my brain, I also had to cope with being pregnant so I was constantly worried.
We were all so worried sick about the impact on the baby because of the trauma and the general anaesthetic. But thank God, there wasn’t anything wrong. She’s absolutely perfect.
My recovery was hampered a bit because I was pregnant as I couldn’t do some of the exercises as my centre of gravity had changed. So that was slow and complicated by being pregnant. I was still using a wheelchair when my partner Adam and I moved in with my parents afterwards for support which has been great. Obviously I wasn’t able to return to work as an administrator and don’t know when I ever will be.
I also had to rebuild my relationship with Conor as I had missed half of his wee life. And on a practical note, my mobility issues mean that I can’t just get down on the floor to play with him. It isn’t easy but I am hoping that he is young enough that he won’t remember the time I was away.
I’ve learnt how to change nappies with only one hand as I’ve lost the use of my left arm and I get help during the day with the children.”
As well as the help Lisa gets from her partner and parents, she has a care package in place which includes support to look after her baby. About five months after her stroke, the community stroke team also put her in contact with Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke. Stroke Family Support Co-ordinator Shirley Brown is a regular visitor to the home. Lisa now also attends the Belfast Young Stroke Group, and is about to start a new programme called PREP – Post Rehabilitation Exercise Programme. One of the things that PREP teaches is how to incorporate physical activity into your everyday life and with two young children, Lisa knows she will have plenty of chances for that!
“While I’m still mostly in the wheelchair, I can potter about the house now with a walking stick. There is hope that I will get my mobility back but not the movement in my arm. We are all just so thankful to the medical staff that I’m here today.
I went from being fit, healthy and independent mother to becoming very dependent on others for help.
It was a horrible time, but we are out the other side of it now. As long as the kids are ok, we can cope.”
Find out more about the stroke support that Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke offers.