A hairdresser spent almost a month in hospital after suffering a stroke. Mum-of-two Francesca Murray fell ill the day after a friend’s pre-wedding celebration and initially put her symptoms down to the effects of a hangover.
But when her symptoms worsened, a friend contacted the emergency services and Ms Murray was airlifted to hospital for treatment. The 45-year-old Dubliner then spent almost a month in hospital at Cork University Hospital (CUH) where she had to regain the ability to walk and talk.
Two years on, Ms Murray has been described as “incredible” by medics and she’s now preparing to run a mini-marathon to raise money for the health teams that helped in her time of need. She told Cork Live how in June 2020, she had been out celebrating her friend’s forthcoming wedding in Kerry which had been postponed due to Covid-19.
“We had a session in her house in Ventry and went to bed. I got up, felt a little groggy and decided to have a painkiller and went back to bed. “Even getting sick a short time later was no different to a bad hangover.”
As Ms Murray’s condition deteriorated and she began slurring her words, bride-to-be Natasha, a Tralee-based nurse, called 999 and she was airlifted by a Coastguard crew to the CUH. This led to a lengthy learning process for Ms Murray, including basic tasks like how to walk and efforts to recover her eyesight.
“I couldn’t speak, I had right-side paralysis and couldn’t move, I couldn’t swallow, had to be spoon-fed and had a catheter in,” said Ms Murray, from Ballyfermot. “I remember the doctors around the bed saying I had had a stroke. It was horrible. But what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. It gave me a whole different outlook on life.”
In CUH, Ms Murray’s care was managed by the stroke and physiotherapy teams as she rebuilt her strength, underwent speech therapy but also battled extreme fatigue and the stress of restricted movement. “I don’t think I understood the severity of it.
“They had me walking from one end of the bed to the other, then progressing to the corridor, I’d only manage a few steps before I had to rest. Losing my peripheral vision meant instead of walking straight, I’d walk to my right.”
She spent almost a month in CUH before being transferred to St James’s in Dublin and now only relies on medication as part of her recovery. Her recovery sparked her interest in doing the mini-marathon, to raise funds to thank her carers at CUH.
“I decided to do the mini-marathon on June 5th to raise funds for CUH Charity because CUH are the ones that got me walking again,” she said. Her experience had another positive spin-off – her 25-year-old daughter Jasmine is embarking on a nursing career after being kept in the loop by medics on her mum’s progress.
Glen Arrigan, one of Ms Murray’s Clinical Nurse Specialists at CUH, which sees more than 600 stroke patients a year, described her recovery as “incredible”.
You can support Fran’s fundraiser for CUH Charity here.
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