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Rachel Corbally

When Rachel Corbally awoke after treatment for a stroke, her biggest relief was that she could move both her arms to hug her children

In 2017 at the age of just 47 Rachel from Co Kildare suffered a severe stroke. Before the life-changing event, the now 52-year-old was working as a building contractor in construction and in her spare time was an avid swimmer and regular gym user.

“Everything was going great until January 2017,” Rachel recalled when she woke up with a headache and “a fuzzy head.”

She remembers receiving a text from a friend and while she could read the text she found she couldn’t respond. Deciding to call her friend later she went to stand up and immediately found herself on the ground

To her great distress Rachel had fallen and couldn’t get up. She called her son who immediately recognised that his mum had had a stroke. He went through the FAST signs with her and saw that her face was dropped on one side and she couldn’t raise her left arm so he called an ambulance.

Rachel was taken immediately to Naas General Hospital where a stroke was confirmed and she was then transferred to Beaumont Hospital in Dublin for a thrombectomy which she credited with saving her life.

A thrombectomy is a procedure where the clot in the brain that is causing the stroke is mechanically removed.

“ I woke up in hospital and my two kids were sitting to the left of me and they were looking terrified,"

Rachel Corbally

After the thrombectomy Rachel was transferred back to Naas General Hospital where her children were waiting anxiously for news.

“I don’t remember anything else. I woke up in hospital and my two kids were sitting to the left of me and they were looking terrified,” she said.

Rachel’s two adult children were told that their mother had suffered a severe stroke and the prognosis was unknown. They were prepared for the worst; that she would be severely disabled, paralysed and unable to talk.

Thanks to the thrombectomy however when Rachel woke up she was almost back to normal with no paralysis or any long-term effects.

“I could just see the relief on their faces and then they just hugged me and I hugged them and they said it was just really good that they could feel me hugging them. It was weaker than normal but I was there,” she said.

“I could move both arms. I could move my legs but I was starving I hadn’t eaten all day,” she laughed.

Rachel had to remain in Naas Hospital for five days before she was allowed home.

She credits both the fast actions of her son in recognising the signs of stroke and Dr John Thornton who carried out the thrombectomy, for saving her life.

“I was blessed. I was absolutely blessed. It was amazing. I just couldn’t thank John Thornton enough, he and his team are absolutely amazing,” Rachel said.

While physically Rachel recovered well, the psychological toll was more difficult


While physically Rachel recovered well, the psychological toll was more difficult and she suffered from panic attacks. She received free counselling sessions from the Irish Heart Foundation to help her deal with the emotional impact of her stroke and with the support of her loving family she has continued to make a good recovery.

Unfortunately for Rachel once she had recovered from her stroke she headed straight into menopause which she described as “a very tough time.”

She was advised that she could not take HRT because of her stroke history so she found the symptoms of menopause extremely difficult to bare.

Rachel is currently living in Spain where she has moved temporarily to look after her stepmother who is recovering from breast cancer and her elderly father.

Rachel said her stroke experience has taught her to slow down and look after herself for a change. She is a great believer in carving out just 5 minutes for herself every day to sit with a coffee or read a book.

She also advocates building physical activity into her everyday life which she said can be achieved by simply parking the car a short walk from her destination to get her steps up.

While caring for elderly parents Rachel is a firm believer in the importance of women looking after themselves which is something she feels a lot of women don’t do.

She has retrained as a beauty and skincare specialist and said that many of her female clients regularly tell her that they don’t have the time to look after themselves.

“I have heard it so many times and my response is ‘I am very sad that you can’t do that for yourself,” she said.

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