STROKE is the most common cause of acquired physical disability in Ireland but life doesn’t have to end says Kate Devlin.
The Annacotty woman was a busy mum, working full-time with Limerick County Council when she suffered a stroke five years ago.
“Out of the blue this hit me, I never suffered from headaches. I was at home, I had had a lovely day but I woke up during the night with a terrible headache. I rang my friend who is a nurse. She came and phoned for an ambulance. I was brought to the Regional and apparently I had a brain haemorrhage,” said Kate.
She was transferred to Cork University Hospital. Between Limerick, Cork and Dun Laoighire Kate spent 11 months in hospital.
“While they were dealing with the brain haemorrhage I had several strokes and it was the strokes that left the damage. I can’t use my left arm. My memory isn’t great but my speech never went thank God, I was always a good talker!” laughed Kate.
One day she spotted the Mid-Western Stroke Support Centre when it was on the Dublin Road. It is now located on Grattan Street, near John Street, in the city. Every Tuesday they run a stroke support club for survivors from 11am to 2pm. Attendees learn how to cope with their acquired disability better from each other and guests. Kate contacted them and has hardly missed the weekly meeting since.
“It’s great because my other option is just looking at the four walls at home, watching the television and feeling isolated. Coming out here you can have a chat, a physio comes along to do exercises, we do crossword puzzles and go for hydrotherapy sessions in St Gabriel’s,” said Kate.
Years ago anybody I ever heard of that got a stroke died but not any more. There is life after stroke as long as there are clubs like this,” added the 52 year-old.
Mary Tobin, centre co-ordinator, says their aim is to provide social, emotional and educational support to stroke survivors.
A stroke is a condition in which the brain cells suddenly die because of a lack of oxygen. This can be caused by an obstruction in the blood flow, or the rupture of an artery to the brain.
Ten thousand people will have a stroke in Ireland this year and one fifth will die. It is the third biggest killer disease and has a higher death toll than breast, lung and bowel combined.
Ms Tobin said the voluntary group was set up in 2005 after its need was identified by staff in St Camillus’ and people who had gone through rehab.
As well as helping those who have suffered a stroke it helps families, carers and friends. The club receives funding from HSE but also relies on fundraising to continue and improve their services.
“Things like isolation and depression are frequently big factors in stroke recovery. Being part of a group eliminates a lot of the potential for problems through isolation and depression. They have great fun together,” said Ms Tobin.
New members and volunteers are always welcome, contact 061 444999 or 087 2546742.