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A stroke at 28 years old

Initially believing she was experiencing the ill-effects of a hangover, Karen Donoghue ignored the symptoms until her mother persuaded her to go to the doctor.

Initially believing she was experiencing the ill-effects of a hangover, Donoghue ignored the symptoms until her mother persuaded her to go to the doctor.

“One night in August 2011, I went out for a few drinks with some friends,” she recalls .

“The next morning, I felt awful and thought I had a hangover even though I didn’t drink much. That evening my left hand started to feel a bit numb and I still wasn’t too concerned, but the next day I had pins and needles in my left leg and felt dizzy.

Unaware that she was showing early signs of stroke, Donoghue wasn’t concerned when the GP asked her undertake a few basic tests – but although she passed them all, he referred her to casualty as a precaution.

“The doctor thought I should go to hospital for further checks so I had some tests and a CT scan,” says Donoghue. “But shortly afterwards I began to deteriorate, so I was admitted and booked in for an MRI the following morning – by which time I was completely paralysed down the left-hand-side of my body – it was terrifying.”

"I began to think that it was more than a hangover and rang my Mam and who took me to the doctor.”

Stroke survivor, Karen Donoghue

Unaware that she was showing early signs of stroke, Karen wasn’t concerned when the GP asked her undertake a few basic tests – but although she passed them all, he referred her to casualty as a precaution.

“The doctor thought I should go to hospital for further checks so I had some tests and a CT scan,” says Donoghue. “But shortly afterwards I began to deteriorate, so I was admitted and booked in for an MRI the following morning – by which time I was completely paralysed down the left-hand-side of my body – it was terrifying.”

The MRI revealed that Donoghue suffered a mild stroke, which luckily was caught early, and after two weeks in hospital, she was referred to the National Rehabilitation Hospital (NRH).

But then things took a turn for the worse.

“After a week at the NRH, I went home for the weekend when suddenly I began to feel really sick and the left side of my head went numb,” she says. “I was rushed to hospital and not long afterwards I slumped over – this is when my second stroke happened.

I couldn’t talk or move properly and the left side of my face had crumpled, so I couldn’t move at all.

Stroke survivor, Karen Donoghue

Unable to move, Donoghue was under constant observation until she was well enough to be referred to the NRH to begin the long road to recovery.

Thankfully, a combination of determination and physiotherapy has paid off and her lengthy ordeal is now a distant memory.

“I have improved greatly and am almost completely back to normal,” she says. “My cognitive side is 99 per cent recovered and thanks to the quick action of my doctor and all the support I received, I am now back to good health.”

 

Copy Courtesy of The Irish Times

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