Harriet Best, 27 from Shepton Beauchamp is taking on the Stroke Association’s Resolution Run, after surviving a stroke just four days following the birth of her son.
Harriet gave birth to her son Harvey in September 2018, after a straightforward pregnancy and normal birth. However, things changed drastically just four days later when Harriet suddenly lost the ability to talk and had paralysis down one side of her body.
Harriet said: “I was running on little sleep and energy, like most new mums! I went to the kitchen to get some food and realised I couldn’t pick up a knife with one hand. I couldn’t cut a slice of cake and didn’t know why. As I attempted to get the slice of cake to my mouth, I struggled to move my hand towards my face. At this point I realised I was going in and out of conscience and I needed to sit down. I tried walking to the living room where my husband and son were, but I had to drag my body across the wall until I got to the room. I collapsed on the sofa and couldn’t swallow the piece of cake that was in my mouth. I couldn’t use my mouth or talk to my husband, it was terrifying.
“My husband helped me sit up and knew something was seriously wrong. He quickly dialled 999 and the first response team arrived shortly after. They kept asking me to raise my arms above my head which I could do one moment, and then not the next. My symptoms were coming and going, the whole thing was so confusing. After following their advice to try to eat to raise my sugar levels, it was clear I was unable to lift the food to my mouth or even move my mouth. At this point I was rushed to hospital for further tests.
“Leaving my four-day-old son at home with my mum and sisters was heart-breaking and so scary. I had no idea what was going on. After a scan of my brain, doctors confirmed I’d had a stroke. Following this my symptoms began to get worse, and that same day I completely lost the ability to talk, walk or use one arm.
“I was devastated and I thought my life will never be the same again. All I could think about was how I would care for my son. How was I supposed to look after Harvey if I couldn’t even look after myself? Thankfully in the weeks following I made a good recovery and my strength and speech slowly returned. I cannot thank everyone who supported me to get to where I am today, I am so grateful for the wonderful care I received.”
Harriet is taking part in the Stroke Association’s 10K run at Escot Park in Devon on Sunday 24 February 2019.
Harriet adds: “No one can believe I had a stroke, and that’s why I’m so passionate to raise awareness of the condition. I never thought I’d be a stroke survivor, but I now realise stroke can happen to anyone at any time. It’s a cruel condition and within an instant your life is turned upside down. I wanted to take on the Resolution Run to not only raise vital funds but awareness to others. It will be hard, but I know I’ll feel so proud when I reach the finish line!”
Amy Spencer, Community and Event Fundraising Manager at the Stroke Association, said: “A Resolution Run is exactly that – a resolution for the New Year that counts. It's the ideal event for people in Devon who want to do something fun together, while getting more active in 2019.
“In the UK there are around 100,000 strokes every year. Our latest research (i) shows that by training and taking part in a Resolution Run, you are helping to lower your stroke risk. The funds raised by each runner means we can reach out to more stroke survivors and their families to offer the support that they may need to rebuild their lives. On behalf of the thousands of stroke survivors and their loved ones that we support every year, I just want to say thank you.”
To sponsor Harriet, please visit: www.justgiving.com/Harriet-Best1
Research from the charity shows that many strokes could be prevented if people made some simple lifestyle changes. Introducing physical activity into your routine is just one aspect of a healthier lifestyle required to reduce your risk of stroke. Monitoring (and managing) your blood pressure, eating a more balanced diet and stopping smoking can all significantly reduce your stroke risk. The money raised through the Resolution Run in Devon will help the Stroke Association to fund vital research and support people affected by stroke in the South West.
Last year participants raised over £633,000 for the Stroke Association This year the charity hopes to raise over £850,000 to continue supporting stroke survivors and their families throughout the UK.
Entry fee is just £16. All runners receive a technical running t-shirt and medal. For more information about entering or volunteering at the Resolution Run, visit www.resolutionrun.org.uk email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0300 330 0740.
ort on stroke. More information can be found at www.stroke.org.uk