Mum of two, Samantha Barrett, 45, from Bishops Stortford, is supporting the Stroke Association’s East of England Hidden Project, after having a serious stroke just two years ago.
Samantha had her stroke just before Christmas in 2013. Samantha said: “I woke in the middle of the night feeling very dizzy. I staggered to the toilet, holding myself up as I tried to walk. I went back to bed but even with my eyes shut the room was spinning. I stayed in bed the next day as it was a Sunday, and just thought I was very ill. But by the evening I decided I needed to go to the doctors the next day as something wasn’t right.
“When I went to the doctors the next day, my right side felt odd, my eye felt tight, and my head felt like a jigsaw puzzle that wouldn’t match – looking back, it was all the obvious symptoms of a stroke but I just didn’t pick up on it.”
Doctors thought that Samantha had a bad virus and told her to rest at home. As Samantha’s symptoms began to deteriorate, she took herself back her GP and A&E for help. Samantha explains: “It seemed too had gone on and on for weeks. It didn’t help that at the time it was the Christmas period either. At home with my family I knew that this just wasn’t right and I needed answers to why I was feeling this bad. Finally, I was told months later I had had a stroke, and I was right to have been worried.”
Samantha is now an active volunteer for the Stroke Association, sharing her experiences with other stroke survivors and offering a helping hand. Samantha has been appointed as the Stroke Association’s Young Stroke Coordinator for Herts and Essex to run the monthly Stroke Association voluntary group.
Samantha is one of the stroke survivors who will be the subject of a powerful new photography exhibition called the Hidden Project, which will be displayed High House Production Park this month.
The group of stroke survivors have posed to highlight the devastating effects of stroke, using the colour purple to depict how each individual has been affected differently.
Samantha adds: “As four working age stroke survivors, we wanted to make an impact to the public to show that whilst we’ve had our strokes, and we have different hidden effects following our strokes, together we can conquer stroke. I hope that from this project, more people realise that stroke can happen in instant, but the effects can last a lifetime. Although I may look well and fine, I have a daily battle with the effects of my stroke.”
Tracy Groves, Regional Information Officer for the Stroke Association in the East of England said: “I am so proud of my team of volunteers for being part of this special creation. On a daily basis I hear how heart breaking it is for stroke survivor’s hidden effects to be ignored.
“Through these powerful images, we hope to raise awareness of stroke across the East of England. A stroke is a brain attack which happens when the blood supply to part of your brain is cut off and brain cells are damaged or die. It can happen out of the blue and be very frightening. Stroke is one of greatest health challenges of our time, with 152,000 strokes happening in the UK every year, and being the leading cause of adult disability in the UK.
“Stroke survivors can struggle with everyday tasks like making a cup of tea, taking a shower or reading the paper. Even talking or communicating with friends and family can be a challenge. A stroke can affect people’s confidence as many survivors feel embarrassed when they can’t remember things or they forget words, or because of the physical effects of their stroke.
“We’re there every step of the way helping survivors and their families deal with the practical and emotional impacts of stroke. We believe in life after stroke and value each person’s victories on the road to recovery.”
The images of Samantha and her two children will be showcased at the Thurrock Stroke Art Exhibition on Tuesday 18 August from 2pm until 6pm at High House Production Park, Vellacott Close, Essex.
For more information about stroke, please visit www.stroke.org.uk or contact our helpline on 0303 303 3100.
A stroke is a brain attack which happens when the blood supply to the brain is cut off, caused by a clot or bleeding in the brain. There are around 152,000 strokes in the UK every year and it is the leading cause of severe adult disability. There are over 1.2 million people in the UK living with the effects of stroke.
Stroke Association is a charity. We believe in life after stroke and together we can conquer stroke. We work directly with stroke survivors and their families and carers, with health and social care professionals and with scientists and researchers. We campaign to improve stroke care and support people to make the best recovery they can. We fund research to develop new treatments and ways of preventing stroke. The Stroke Helpline (0303 303 3100) provides information and support on stroke. More information can be found at www.stroke.org.uk