A stroke survivor from Parkgate has received a Highly Commended Life After Stroke Award from the Stroke Association, in recognition of her courage and determination.
Angharad Pulford, 39, gave birth to her baby girl Aoife in June 2015 after a straightforward pregnancy and normal birth. However, things changed drastically two weeks later when Angharad experienced a sharp pain in her head while feeding Aoife. The next morning, while preparing breakfast for her eldest daughter Niamh, Angharad collapsed to the floor.
Her husband Martin called an ambulance, and Angharad was taken to A&E at Arrowe Park Hospital where her condition worsened. Eventually after multiple scans, doctors told her she had had a stroke, caused by a right carotid artery dissection.
Angharad said: “My stroke was believed to be birth related as there were no other pre-disposing factors. Bang and my world changed. I could barely hold my baby, let alone do anything for her.
“I spent nine days on the stroke unit, and the therapists would help me to use a doll to practice dressing and changing nappies. We also made up milk bottles and played games to encourage dexterity. Simple tasks had suddenly become so difficult. My parents were also by my side the whole way through and brought Aoife in every day to ensure I could bond with her.”
Angharad was transferred to the stroke rehabilitation unit where she practiced standing and eventually some steps. She also relearnt how to climb stairs but ultimately was wheelchair dependent.
She added: “I was allowed home for weekend leave which was lovely but I wasn’t really prepared for how overwhelming this would be. Going back to the rehab unit after a weekend at home was the hardest thing. Whilst the staff and physiotherapists were brilliant, my overwhelming feeling was that I was being robbed of my little girls and I grieved for the life I knew. When I held Aoife, my heart was broken as this wasn’t how it was meant to be. I worried for the future and how I was ever going to look after her.”
Angharad was discharged with support from the Early Supported Discharge Team and once home, things went from strength to strength. Whilst on the stroke unit, Angharad had been introduced to the Stroke Association, and the local team helped her to get back to her life after stroke once she had returned home.
Angharad added: “I can honestly say my Stroke Association coordinator Jane became a rock during an awful time. I’m now in such a better place now emotionally and physically. My little girls are growing up and I love them both with all my heart, I’m lucky to have them and hope they won’t remember too much about when Mummy was poorly. Having being taken to the ‘edge’, you truly learn to value family and friends, and I cannot fault the love and support I was shown. I’ve been fortunate to come out the other side of it.”
Angharad was nominated for a Life After Stroke Award by her husband Martin. He said: “I always believed in Angharad’s ability to get herself back on her feet, but when I look at her now with our two beautiful daughters, it really is difficult not to be amazed by what she has achieved.”
Angharad received her Highly Commended certificate at a celebratory event at the AJ Bell Stadium in Salford on Thursday 31 January.
Chris Larkin, Director for the Stroke Association in the North, added: “A stroke happens in an instant and often changes lives forever. We were thrilled that so many local people across the North West were nominated to receive a Life After Stroke Award. Our regional event highlights the tremendous courage people like Angharad have shown in rebuilding their lives after a stroke, or in helping others to do the same.”
The Stroke Association’s Life After Stroke Awards recognise the courage shown by stroke survivors and carers as well as the great work and commitment shown by health professionals, groups and supporter organisations. For more information visit www.stroke.org.uk/LASA