Karen’s daughter had two strokes when she was just a three year old, our FAST advert helped Karen spot the signs.
When Clara Le Blanc (7) had her first stroke she was just 3 years of age. Shockingly, just three months later, the little toddler had a second stroke.
The first happened in May 2012 and went unrecognised – Clara lost the peripheral vision in her right eye as a result. The second happened on August 19, 2012 and was catastrophic. She lost her speech and all movement down her right side.
Clara’s face had dropped
Clara’s younger sister Alison needed her bottle in the night, her mother Karen recalls, and she noticed that Clara’s face had dropped. “The FAST advert came into my head immediately,” she says.
“She was in Temple Street for five weeks and in the National Rehabilitation Hospital (NRH) for three months.” During this time Clara had every test and procedure imaginable, but rarely cried or complained.
In fact, when she left Temple Street, one of her doctors bought her the book of the movie Brave, as she said it reminded her of Clara.
Now aged 7, Clara has made a good recovery from her strokes, but has been left with hemiplegia on her right side, and therefore has very limited use of her right hand.
“She is right-handed naturally,” her mother says. “I have watched with absolute and utter pride as she struggles with the easiest tasks, yet insists on ‘doing it herself’.”
“She calls her hand and leg her ‘sleepy hand and leg’ and is determined to wake them up,” says Karen.
Dealing with loss of speech
“Clara was a very talkative child who had a huge vocabulary for her age when she had her stroke, so losing her speech at the time was devastating for all of us and her.
“She has her speech back now, but when she was younger she struggled with nursery rhymes that she would have known off by heart before she got sick. She has aphasia, but deals with it so well by describing things or ‘giving us a clue’ when she can’t remember a word. She came up with these strategies by herself.
“Recently when a child was berating her for being slow in the playground, Clara calmly told her that ‘when my sleepy hand and leg get better, I will be just as fast as you.’ I was very proud,” says Karen.
An inspiration and a proud mother
“Clara is an inspiration and despite everything, started school aged just 4 years and 2 months. I could go on and on, but will finish by saying that I am extremely proud of how Clara has just got on with things.
“The only thing that she has complained about is that her smile is not like a princess’ anymore, as her mouth still turns down. To me, she is the most beautiful princess ever.”