Former Kirkby teacher’s brave road to recovery

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TWENTY-EIGHT-year-old Michelle Smith had everything to look forwards to when she was hit by a stroke from out of nowhere in 2009.

Michelle had just learnt to drive and started her new job as a primary school teacher in Kirkby but is now wheelchair-bound and speechless after losing all mobility down her right-hand side as a result. She also has also developed epilepsy and dyspraxia.

The mother-of-two took part in the East Midlands’ Step Out For Stroke event at Rufford Abbey Country Park with brother Steven Smith (27) and has so far raised nearly £800 in sponsorship money for the Stroke Society.

Michelle, of Oaktree Lane Estate, was pushed around the two-and-a-half kilometre course by Steven.

He said she was now cared for at home but the stroke had a massive effect not only on Michelle’s life but those of her family also.

“Michelle had a couple of years out after university to have kids and they were just finding their feet. Her partner was a bricklayer but had to give up work because he could not cope.

“They were going places but are stuck now.”

Michelle’s struggle began when at work she complained of a headache and was sent to King’s Mill A&E after fainting.

A brain bleed was discovered and she was moved by ambulance to the Queen’s Medical Centre (QMC), Nottingham.

While in surgery Michelle suffered another brain bleed and barely survived a massive stroke.

The ex-primary school teacher was in intensive care at QMC for a month and spent a while at King’s Mill Hospital before going through rehabilitation at Kirkby Community Hospital.

Michelle now communicates using hand signals but can say very few words.

Father-of-two Steven, also of Oaktree Lane Estate, said the treatment she received was very good but its success depended on the individual. He added: “I do not think there will be much more improvement - there will not be a miracle because the damage is done.

“She watches TV now and plays with her kids to a certain extent but it is very hard to communicate with someone who cannot speak.”

Michelle needs surgery to prevent more bleeding, but its success is not guaranteed and she still has part of her skull missing following the initial surgery.

The step out for stroke event is a national event where people complete sponsored walks to raise money for the Stroke Association.

Many of those taking part are stoke survivors and so walk as far as they can manage.

Steven said he hoped the money raised would go towards researching the disease in order to prevent it.

He added: “The TV adverts tell you to look out for the vital signs but there is not enough information out there.

“The walk we did in Rufford is still in its early days but we hope it will become a big event in the future. We are going to do it every year now.”

To sponsor Michelle’s walk visit her sister-in-law’s Justgiving page at www.justgiving.com/Kelly5583.