Stroke victim Colette says love gives her courage

AFTER suffering two strokes before the age of 30, Colette Boyd's friends told her she was overdue some good luck.

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Colette and Pete are now engaged and looking forward to the rest of their lives together
Colette and Pete are now engaged and looking forward to the rest of their lives together

She had suffered the first at 28 and doctors had said the chances of her suffering a repeat stroke were about a billion to one – but she was hit again.

Being unable to work because of the effects of the strokes, Colette's confidence was at rock bottom.

Missing the buzz of the office, she logged on to an internet chatroom and began a conversation with a man over their shared love of football and rock music.

They arranged to meet for a cinema date. Just 10 months later Colette and Pete got engaged and the pair are now man and wife.

Colette, now 37, says she is finally returning to her old self, thanks to Pete, 46. She says: "He is all my good luck rolled into one."

She was a sociable 28-year-old working for a travel firm in Glasgow and travelling all over the world when her own world was turned upside down.

"I was having breakfast with my friends and my arm felt a bit funny, but I thought I had just slept on it," she says.

"I remember I couldn't open the butter sachet, but I didn't think much of it.

"But when I went to work, a couple of people asked if I had done something to my arm.

"After lunch I had dribbled down the side of my mouth.

"So I did what every sensible girl does – I called my mum. She told me to go straight to the doctor."

Colette was immediately sent to the Southern General Hospital and only discovered what had happened when she looked up and saw a sign for "stroke" on the hospital unit.

The then 28-year-old had suffered a haemorrhagic stroke, which results from a weakened vessel that ruptures and bleeds into the surrounding brain. It accounts for about 13% of stroke cases.

She says: "When you are 28 you don't think it is going to happen.

"They said the chances of it happening again were a billion to one."

However, almost exactly a year later, she suffered a second stroke. It was caused by scar tissue coming off the original tear that cause the first stroke.

She says: "The second stroke affected my voice, although only people who knew me before would notice. I believe it is the tone that has changed.

"I no longer sing in the church group I was once part of and sometimes when I say something meant as a joke the tone doesn't change and what I said can be taken the wrong way.

"I have a general weakness down my left side and walk with a slight limp.

"I can't really use my left arm at all now."

It was after suffering the second stroke Colette turned to an internet chatroom for company and struck up her friendship with Pete, which eventually blossomed into love.

The couple are now happily married, living in Rutherglen and hoping for a family.

Colette says: "Pete wasn't fazed by my condition. He does so much for me, helping me cook and dress.

"When we got engaged I wanted to share my exciting news and show off my ring but I had to use my right hand to lift up my left hand to show the ring, which kind of spoiled the moment.

"Before I had the strokes I was a completely different person. Thanks to Pete I'm now finally getting back to that."

Colette's new-found confidence will be tested next month when she takes part in a terrifying charity challenge.

She has bravely agreed to take part in the Stroke Association's Big Swing event on March 23, which will see participants 'swing' off the 150ft Titan Crane, Clydebank, and out over the River Clyde.

Colette aims to raise hundreds of pounds for the charity, but says: "I want to do this because for such a long time I have been scared of trying to do things and not being able to.

"I literally want to make that jump to prove to myself and everyone else that I can still do anything, it might just take a little more planning and assistance."

caroline.wilson@ eveningtimes.co.uk

n Each year around 150,000 people in the UK have a stroke.

n It is the third most common cause of death in the UK.

n Young people, babies and children can also be affected.

n There are two different types of stroke:

n Ischaemic strokes happen when something blocks an artery that carries blood to the brain.

n Haemorrhagic strokes happen when a blood vessel bursts and bleeds into the brain (a haemorrhage).

n You can recognise the symptoms of a stroke using the FAST test:

Facial weakness,

Arm weakness,

Speech problems.

Time to call 999.

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