More awareness needed says mother-of-three stroke victim

By Mary Dennehy

A MOTHER-of-three has stressed the need for more awareness of the symptoms and signs of a stroke, after she collapsed in work despite being fit, healthy and showing no warning signs.

Rebecca Fallon (47) was working in a florist in Clondalkin 18 months ago when the left side of her body became weak and she collapsed on the floor.

Dr Ronan Collins Director of Stroke Services  Consultant Physician

A mother of three boys, Rebecca was in the florist on her own at the time of her collapse and believed she had just fainted – until her young co-worker arrived on the premises and called 999 after looking at Rebecca’s symptoms. 

“I am so grateful to this young lad for calling an ambulance”, Rebecca said. 

“I thought I had just fainted and needed air but when he came back and saw that the left side of my face looked numb and that my speech was slightly slurry, he called 999 straight away. 

“If he hadn’t been there I probably would have crawled out the door for some air- which would have resulted in things been very different for me today.” 

Rebecca told The Echo that she was fit, healthy and had no history of heart problems, high blood pressure or cholesterol when got, what she describes as, “a cloud of smoke in her head” and collapsed. 

However, she was a busy mam of three and looking back she believes she may have been stressed or anxious about starting a new full-time job. 

She said: “I had been getting headaches for a few weeks before the stroke but I didn’t think anything of it as I’ve suffered with migraines in the past. 

“However, the one thing that was different about these headaches was that they were waking me up in the night.”

She added: “Nobody is immune to a stroke, they can affect anybody of any age and it’s so important that people are aware of the signs.

“They say that people have a tight window to get administered stroke treatment and thankfully, due to the quick action of my co-worker, I was in Tallaght Hospital, which is a centre of excellence for stroke care, within two-and-a-half hours and had received the drug thrombolysis – which helps to break down the clot in the artery. 

“I had minimal movement in my left leg after the stroke and nothing at all in my left arm after the stroke. 

“However, I have between 50 and 60 percent control, and I’m back doing some things like driving. 

“A stroke can devastate a life. You lose a sense of yourself because you can’t do what you did before. 

“It can make you feel very isolated but with small goals every day and some motivation you can feel fit and healthy again – it just takes time.”

Rebecca, who is currently re-training in Tallaght, has encouraged people to be aware of the symptoms of a stroke and the FAST [Face, Arms, Speech, Time to Call] test. 

Rebecca also commended Tallaght Hospital for its care and continued support. 

Tallaght Hospital established the first organised all-age stroke service in Ireland and is a national leader in the provision of acute stroke care, currently providing a tertiary stroke service to the people of South West Dublin and Dublin Mid-Leinster. 

Dr Ronan Collins, Director of Stroke Services at Tallaght Hospital, told The Echo: “Time is crucial with a stroke, no other disease is as time dependant. 

“Brain tissue is very sensitive to lack of oxygen and the quicker we get a patient in, the better the chance of saving as much brain tissue as possible – and ultimately better recovery.” 

Visit www.stroke.ie for more.

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