Martin's story

A year ago, I was ringing the church bells at my local Christmas service when an intense headache suddenly struck.

Feeling dizzy and nauseous I decided to drive the 12 miles to my parent’s home, but my health continued to deteriorate. A couple of hours later, my mother decided to take me to hospital where they discovered that I had had a stroke.

At the time I worked as a Researcher for a large engineering company. I had always been active, and in particular I loved playing American Football, representing both Nottingham City and Nottingham University. Along with sport, I enjoyed going out with my friends and travelling. I was 25 years old, and the thought that I could have a stroke had never entered my mind. Hearing the diagnosis was the shock of my life.

Although I was extremely fortunate, and managed to overcome the physical after-effects of my stroke quite quickly, I felt like I was just not the same person anymore. Emotionally, that was very difficult. For me, the hardest part was thinking that my life could never be as it once was. I struggled with anxiety and depression for some time, before finally conceding that I couldn't defeat them on my own, and I sought help. Counselling helped me in ways I couldn't possibly have imagined and through a lot of hard work I was able to get my life back on track.

During my recovery I was confronted with a number of things that people said I wouldn't or shouldn't be able to do again, like going back to work full-time. In overcoming these hurdles I have had to develop a philosophy of working out how I can do things, rather than dwell on why I can't do them.

As part of my recovery I have achieved so many things I didn't think were possible. I took a trip to Australia alone for six weeks, where I ended up meeting a sapphire miner in the middle of nowhere to star gaze, and I’ve slept the night on my own in the middle of the rain forest.

One of my ambitions has always been to set a world record. I got talking with a friend who happened to have a space hopper in her house and we started wondering what the furthest distance anyone had ever done on one of them. So I decided I was going to have a go and try and beat it – and I did!

Find out more about how to recognise the signs of stroke this Christmas