Woman to run London Marathon for National Brain Appeal after surviving stroke aged 23

PUBLISHED: 11:12 10 April 2017

Laura Stanley had a stroke aged 23

Laura Stanley had a stroke aged 23


Laura Stanley, now 30, was left with difficulty walking, and speaking, extreme fatigue, and confusion after her stroke

Laura and Kieran on their wedding dayLaura and Kieran on their wedding day

A woman from Bexleyheath is taking part in the London Marathon to raise money for a charity which helped her after she survived a stroke aged 23.

Laura Stanley, now 30, will be running the marathon on April 23 to raise money for The National Brain Appeal, a charity which supports the hospital where she received treatment for her stroke.

Ms Stanley, who is married to husband Kieran and has two boys, five-year-old Max and one-year-old Leo, had flown to Sweden with her husband in August 2010 for a colleague’s wedding.

They were enjoying the day, when suddenly at the wedding reception she began to feel strange. Ms Stanley couldn’t swallow or smile properly, her throat felt tight and she lost the power in her right hand.

Laura with her husband Kieran, and her two sonsLaura with her husband Kieran, and her two sons

They decided to stay at the wedding, but after sleeping throughout the night, she wasn’t able to function properly. They got to the airport, and flew home, where they were met by an ambulance. Ms Stanley was rushed to hospital with a suspected stroke.

She had suffered a haemorrhagic stroke, a bleed in her brain. Most strokes are a result of a blocked artery in the brain. Her stroke was one of around fifteen per cent of caused by a bleed.

Ms Stanley was referred to the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, in London, a specialist centre for diseases of the brain, spine and nervous system. Scans and tests were unable to shed light on any underlying cause for her brain haemorrhage.

As a result of the stroke, she was experiencing extreme tiredness, was very confused and she could not speak properly. It affected the right side of her body, particularly her right arm and she had lost the ability to write. She could walk, but not far and only very slowly.

Ms Stanley said: “I couldn’t believe what was happening to me. I had been a confident twenty-three year old, enjoying my life and work and now my life had completely changed. I was scared to leave hospital. With all of these changes to my brain and body I felt anxious about going home and not having medical staff around me.”

After a week in hospital she was discharged home. Mr Stanley took a few days off work to look after her and her best friend Jenny was also on hand to help. The hospital had arranged for a stroke rehabilitation team including a speech and language therapist, occupational therapist and physiotherapist to visit at home.

She said: “My speech was not clear. I struggled to find words and sentences would come out all muddled. It was completely overwhelming. Simple things that I’d always taken for granted were now really challenging for me.”

Ms Stanley spent a month at home after being discharged from hospital and with time, she began to improve although she needed to sleep many more hours than a healthy twenty-three year old due to the damage caused by the bleed in her brain.

She returned to work in October 2010, initially working reduced hours and just two days a week and then two months later she was back working full-time.

It took until January 2011 for her to feel ok.

She said: “It was a kind of new normal. Whilst the fatigue was improving, I did struggle to feel confident and would occasionally muddle my words.”

She now feels she wants to do something to raise awareness of neurological diseases and to raise money for research.

She added: “Doctors don’t know what caused my brain haemorrhage or whether it might be a hereditary condition. This is why I want to do something to support research into neurological disorders, so in future these questions might be answered. I feel so passionate about running for The National Brain Appeal. It is my way of saying thank you for the care that I received at The National Hospital and also the care they gave my cousin’s father.”

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