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Andrew Carr

On Valentine’s Day 2021 Andrew Carr 31, proposed to his girlfriend Bernadette, two days later he suffered a life-altering stroke.

“I wasn’t the same person after I had my stroke. I wasn’t thinking like I used to, and there were a lot of things I couldn’t do, but thank you for being there. Thank you for understanding. I am looking forward to a stronger future together.”

This is the very special message 31-year-old Andrew Carr from Coolock in Dublin wants to send his fiancé Bernadette this Valentine’s Day – the first anniversary of the day he proposed and two days before he suffered a stroke.

On Valentine’s Day last year, Andrew Carr got down on one knee to ask his Bernadette to be his wife, she accepted and they excitedly set about making plans. Little did they know then, however, that just two days later on the 16th of February 2021, Andrew would have a stroke.

Andrew explained that he had just finished a busy day at work when he suddenly felt very strange. It was only when he started chatting to his brother that he realised his speech was slurred and he had numbness on his left side. His fiancé was worried that he may have had a stroke and brought him straight to Beaumont Hospital in Dublin.

Andrew was frightened, his speech was slurred and incoherent. A CT scan and follow-up MRI confirmed that 30-year-old Andrew had indeed suffered a stroke and he remained in hospital for 8 days.

“I wasn’t the same person after I had my stroke. I wasn’t thinking like I used to,"

Andrew Carr

The day before Andrew was discharged tests revealed that he was born with a hole in his heart which doctors believed may have caused his stroke. He underwent a successful procedure to close the hole in September last year.

While in hospital recovering from his stroke, Andrew chose  Bernadette’s engagement ring however, he wisely sent her a photo before placing the order.

When he was discharged the engagement ring was waiting for him so he was finally able to put it on Bernadette’s finger.

Andrew said rehabilitation and recovery after his stroke was difficult and while he received excellent care in hospital he found that once home there was little support.

A light in the darkness

Andrew was referred to the Irish Heart Foundation’s Stroke Check-In Service which he described as “a light in the darkness.”

Through the support of the Irish Heart Foundation, Andrew accessed peer-to-peer support from a fellow stroke survivor, exercise classes and he also became a member of the Young Stroke Survivors network.

Andrew said the Irish Heart Foundation support services shine a light for people who have had a stroke

.

“Recuperation was tough at first, my memory was affected and I still have to work on my speech its 97 per cent perfect but when I get tired it starts to get muddled, the fatigue is also very difficult, Andrew said.

For Andrew, the most difficult thing was how frightening the experience was and he said that people didn’t fully understand or appreciate the hidden side effects of stroke. He continued to struggle with his speech and lost confidence in his ability to speak. However, the Irish Heart Foundation’s stroke support groups greatly helped with this he said, and has also helped to build up his confidence by providing a safe space to talk openly with people who truly understood the realities of stroke.

“It’s good to listen to someone who has been there. It’s nice that someone can say how you are feeling when you don’t know how to say it yourself.  It was a good opportunity to build up your confidence…. after I had the stroke I didn’t have the confidence to talk. [The stroke support group] allowed me to learn from other people that was invaluable, and there was an understanding built-in,” Andrew said.

“ You feel like you are in the dark and people need support from people who really understand … the Irish Heart Foundation understands,"

Andrew Carr

“When I was in the hospital I just wanted to get home to show Bernadette that I was ok but I don’t think I would have done that well without the service afterward,” he added.

“People think that when you have a stroke you are left with a loss of power in your body or slurred words, but there are the other background things you wouldn’t realise, the memory and coordination difficulties…when you learn from other people who have had a stroke it makes you feel less afraid ……you realise that the fatigue, the headaches are normal, it normalises everything and makes you realise that you are not alone in this.”

“You would be in the dark if you didn’t have groups like that to give you that understanding, that is very important when you get out of hospital,” he added.

Almost one year on from his stroke Andrew is thankfully recovering well and has started back at work as a member of the Erasmus Team at Trinity College Dublin. He is also being kept busy with preparations for the wedding which is due to take place on the 03rd of September in Dublin. He said he was very grateful for the support he continues to receive from the Irish Heart Foundation and would encourage others to support the charity this Valentine’s weekend.

Andrew said that the Irish Heart Foundation support services shine a light for people who have had a stroke and he has signed up to do the 5k Love Run over St Valentine’s weekend in aid of the charity.

“When I was in the hospital I just wanted to get home to show Bernadette that I was ok but I don’t think I would have done that well without the service afterward,” he added.

“People think that when you have a stroke you are left with a loss of power in your body or slurred words, but there are the other background things you wouldn’t realise, the memory and coordination difficulties…when you learn from other people who have had a stroke it makes you feel less afraid ……you realise that the fatigue, the headaches are normal, it normalises everything and makes you realise that you are not alone in this.”

“You would be in the dark if you didn’t have groups like that to give you that understanding, that is very important when you get out of hospital,” he added.

Almost one year on from his stroke Andrew is thankfully recovering well and has started back at work as a member of the Erasmus Team at Trinity College Dublin. He is also being kept busy with preparations for the wedding which is due to take place on the 03rd of September in Dublin. He said he was very grateful for the support he continues to receive from the Irish Heart Foundation and would encourage others to support the charity this Valentine’s weekend.

Andrew said that the Irish Heart Foundation support services shine a light for people who have had a stroke and he has signed up to do the 5k Love Run over St Valentine’s weekend in aid of the charity.

“You feel like you are in the dark and people need support from people who really understand … the Irish Heart Foundation understands ….it’s an invaluable service to somebody who has had a stroke.”

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