Published date
Thursday, 9 July, 2020

Research helped me

Photo of KarenIt was Wednesday morning when I had my stroke. I was getting ready for work when I collapsed. It was my son that sensed something was wrong, found me, and called an ambulance. I couldn’t see or speak, and my left side was completely paralysed.

My stroke was caused by blood clots that had travelled into my brain. I didn’t know at the time, but research, including that funded by the Stroke Association, enabled me to receive a new treatment called thrombectomy

Within four hours of the stroke occurring, surgeons could go into my blood vessel to physically remove the blood clots and restore the vital blood supply to my brain. I left the hospital two days later with complete mobility, speech and sight restored; I was able to walk and talk well, and use my arms and hands freely. The only physical symptom I’ve been left with is some numbness in the tip of my left finger. I am so fortunate.

But we need more research so stroke survivors can get the support they need

The days that followed were quite euphoric with many visitors and well-wishers. But, the first time I was alone in the house, it hit me like being hit head-on by a truck; the shock.

For me, the greatest battle was psychological. It took too long for myself, and healthcare professionals to spot and find the support to address the emotional problems I was experiencing. 

I experienced extreme anxiety. Inside my head it felt like I had a ping pong ball ricocheting around. Each ping was an irrational, negative thought which I could not stop. They prevented me from sleeping, and caused a loss of appetite and my heart to beat erratically. I was absolutely fearful of going to sleep for thinking I would have another stroke and not wake up.

I used support from the Stroke Association and information about how I could help myself combat anxiety and depression to get me through.

Fresh air and nature also helped me to cope with the effects of my stroke. I started walking and cycling more and through this I’m really proud to have raised over £4,000 for the Stroke Association. It’s my way of giving something back.

My hope for the future of stroke research

Research into stroke is immensely important, and I hope it can help us to better understand the devastating effects of stroke so stroke survivors and their loved ones can get the support they need.

Without research that developed the thrombectomy procedure and helped make it available through the NHS, I would not be here today. So, I would like to say 'thank you' to the researchers funded by the Stroke Association for your gifts and talents, and how you are putting them to such hugely significant, life-changing research.

To supporters of the Stroke Association, I would like to say a huge 'thank you', although I'm not sure there is a thank you big enough. It's not an understatement when I say that without your support, I would not be the person enjoying life in the way I do today.

Stroke research is at risk

For over thirty years the Stroke Association has invested in research that has changed the lives of stroke survivors just like Karen.

But the coronavirus pandemic has caused massive disruption to stroke research, and we’ve seen a dramatic reduction in our income. This means that we’ll have less money to spend on vital research over the next few years. It could delay progress in finding new treatments, therapies and ways to support stroke survivors to rebuild their lives.

  • We anticipate a shortfall of £1.5 million to resume current research and support vital new projects this year.
  • Almost three quarters (74%) of research projects funded by the Stroke Association have been suspended. 

And, whilst our researchers are working hard to adapt their plans so they can continue their projects, we’re also working to raise awareness for the vital contribution charities make to funding for medical research in the UK. 

You can donate to the Stroke Association here and find out more about our research here.

Find out more about medical research charities on the Association of Medical Research Charities website.

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