When someone has a stroke, minutes matter and they could save a life.
That’s something Athlone stroke survivor Carrie Minagh knows only too well, and it’s the main reason she is so determined to spread awareness of the new Act F.A.S.T. (Face, Arm, Speech, Time) campaign by the Irish Heart Foundation (IHF).
Her mother’s quick actions and recognition of the signs saved her life over six and half years ago, she says starkly, when she suffered a bleed on the brain aged just 33 which left her unable to speak or walk. She later underwent surgery in Beaumont Hospital, Dublin after being rushed there from Ballinasloe.
“It (stroke) can happen to anyone of any age. I just want to spread awareness of the campaign and get the information out there. I was lucky, Mam just knew the signs,” stresses Carrie, who is appealing to people to make themselves aware of the signs of stroke – from the face falling – can they smile? Then there’s slurred or abnormal speech or fallen arms, a good test of this is whether someone can raise them or not. If someone shows any of these signs call 112 or 999 immediately.
A stroke kills two million brain cells every minute – and every 60 seconds saved between having a stroke to getting effective treatment saves one week of healthy life for a patient, according to IHF. The Act F.A.S.T. (Face, Arm, Speech, Time) campaign aims to warn the public how crucial early hospital treatment is to limit long-term damage.
Stroke is one of the few conditions where your own actions and the speed of your response can determine your outcome, Carrie reminds the public, and it doesn’t stop during a pandemic either so it’s imperative people educate themselves and be fully aware.
While treatments for stroke have improved dramatically over the past decade, it is still crucial that the person gets to the hospital as soon as possible after a stroke.
If it doesn’t kill you it can rob you of your power of speech, leave you paralysed, forced to spend the rest of your life dependent on others.
Luckily for Carrie, the news is good; more than six years and half years on from her bleed on the brain or stroke, she tells the Westmeath Independent that life is good and she is enjoying the first year of her college course in Maynooth, where she studying Community Development with Youth having already completed a Level 6 course in the same topic in Moate Business College. She is currently doing a work placement with the Irish Heart Foundation.
“I’m doing good. Every day it gets better and I just take every day as it comes now. I know I’m lucky,” adds Carrie, who spent nine months of rehabilitation in Dun Laoghaire after her stroke where her determination shone through as she began a remarkable journey to re-learn how to walk, read, write, and communicate again.
She knows how lucky she is that everything came back and the Athlone woman now concentrates on enjoying the small things in life, thankful she is alive to savour them.
Finally, Carrie would like to let other stroke survivors in the Midlands know that they are not alone. They can find support and friendship as she did from other stroke survivors through the Irish Heart Foundation’s network of stroke support groups, one of which is located in Ballinasloe. She hopes to bring all of her experiences to bear and work in the community development area in the future.