Stroke survivor Mary talks about her frightening ordeal

By Sara Gahan

Mary Martin from Enniscorthy openly talks about her frightening ordeal.
Mary Martin from Enniscorthy openly talks about her frightening ordeal.

Separated mother of three Mary Martin from Daphne View, Enniscorthy has opened up about a major stroke she suffered at the age of 47, in an effort to enhance awareness with the Irish Heart Foundation.

Mary has partnered up with Irish Heart to drive awareness of stroke by speaking about her own experience and how staying positive was of a great benefit to her.

Mary, who is now 54, had a lot on her plate before she suffered the stroke, taking care of three teenage children alone including a son with autism.

In June 2010 Mary was cleaning up the kitchen after enjoying a meal with her children. The girls went next door to play with their neighbours and her son went to his bedroom.

Mary said: 'I went upstairs to brush my teeth and that is when it happened. My right leg started to feel weird, like I had a trapped nerve so I sat on the side of the bath to see if it would pass.'

Her leg did not improve as time went by and Mary knew she was in danger, she got down to the ground and crawled down the stairs to get to the kitchen as her leg became paralyzed.

'One of my daughters came back and I shouted at her to get Jackie, my next door neighbour. At this stage my arm went as well,' said Mary.

Jackie came running in and Mary shouted at her to ring an ambulance as she knew at that stage she was having a stroke. She said her 'face was not affected at all' but her 'right side was completely paralyzed.'

Mary did not have any signs, she had no headaches or any sickness and was a fit woman who regularly went on walks with an exercise group in Enniscorthy.

After 20 minutes, the ambulance arrived where they rushed her to Wexford General Hospital as they knew straight away what was wrong with her.

Mary had to get a scan done at Wexford hospital where they rang Beaumount Hospital, Dublin to ask about sending her up there.

Mary said: 'I spent a week in Wexford and then two weeks in Beaumount. I had suffered a bleed on the brain. After spending that time in hospital getting tests done they still were not completely sure about it, only that a little blood vessel had ruptured in my brain.'

Mary was under a lot of stress at the time and was finding it very hard to get a good nights sleep previous to her stroke.

Meanwhile, she was transferred back to Wexford hospital where she waited a few days until a bed was available for her in St John's Rehabilitative Hospital, Enniscorthy.

Mary spent eight weeks there where she said she received marvellous care from everyone that worked there and slowly her movement and feeling started to come back to her.

'I went home in September to my family. To this day I still have to wear an ankle brace, I am just very lucky the outcome wasn't much worse,' said Mary.

She said it was the most frightening thing that happened to her as her head was fine but her body was slowly becoming numb and she could not control it.

'I am doing this for the Irish Heart Foundation as I want to give people hope and to encourage them to keep on going as there is light at the end of the tunnel,' said Mary.

In 2010, she was presented with an Adult Bravery award for her incredible positive attitude in overcoming her stroke. Her determination to regain the use of her limbs and return home to her family won the admiration of her fellow patients in St John's.

Mary's kindness, good humour and encouragement inspired them to stay positive at the most difficult time of their lives.

Stroke is Ireland's third biggest killer but hundreds of lives could be saved if more people knew how to react in particular, the importance of calling an ambulance and getting to the hospital quickly when a stroke occurs.

The average stroke destroys two million brain cells every minute, so act FAST which stands for: Facial weakness, can the person smile; Arm weakness, can they raise their arms; Speech problems; Time to call 999.

Mary said the best tips to prevent stroke are drink less alcohol, quit smoking, get active, eat healthy and try get regular blood pressure checks.

Mary said: 'Not everyone will experience all the signs together, but do be aware of them. If you have suffered a stroke just focus on the good things. You will eventually get through it.'

Wexford People