Mum’s stroke campaign

Maggie Wilby who had a stroke last year aged just 35.  pictured  twin sons  Oliver and Ben at their home in MiddlestownMaggie Wilby who had a stroke last year aged just 35.  pictured  twin sons  Oliver and Ben at their home in Middlestown
Maggie Wilby who had a stroke last year aged just 35. pictured twin sons Oliver and Ben at their home in Middlestown
A new campaign aims to raise awareness of stroke in women. Catherine Scott spoke to one woman about her experience.

Maggie Wilby was just 35 when she suffered a stroke.

One of her seven-year-old twins, Ben, found her unconcious in the sitting room and raised the alarm, probably saving his mum’s life.

“The doctors told me that the stroke was so big they hadn’t expected me to live,” says Maggie from Wakefield.

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Maggie was bringing up twins Ben and Oliver, single-handedly after their father and her ex-partner, Wayne, died following a heart attack aged 39 three years ago.

Now the boys, nine, are helping to care for their mum who has been left with very poor vision and memory loss.

“The boys have to do a lot of things for themselves. They have to get themselves to and from school they help with the washing and also with meals.”

It was one even in February last year after Maggie had put the boys to bed and was enjoying a few glasses of wine.

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“I went to the toilet and my legs went. I though I must have had one too many to drink.”

That was the last thing she remembers. It was Ben who found her the following morning, collapsed behind the living room door.

Maggie doesn’t remember anything about being in hospital, but staff told her that she was extremely lucky to be alive; her stroke was so severe.

When she woke after the stroke, she couldn’t remember the last two years of her life and it took weeks for her memories to start to come back.

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Maggie now has no right vision in both eyes which means she cannot go out at night.

“It really affects my confidence,” says Maggie, who has also been forced to give up her job at Wakefield College.

“I also struggle with my speech and sometimes have trouble finding the words I want to say.

“My boys gave me something to fight for and I’m so proud of them for everything they do to support me.”

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Maggie was worried that her twins were taking on too much and so with the help of the Stroke Association team they were put in touch with Barnados Young Carers.

“They now have somewhere to go and have other children to talk to who are going through similar things to them.”

According to research from the Stroke Association published today to coincide with World Stroke Day, one in eight women in the UK wrongly believes that a stroke could never happen to them

Around 30,000 women die from a stroke every year.

The condition is the third leading cause of death in women in the UK, and the second biggest killer worldwide.

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The charity’s latest poll uncovers widespread misconceptions about stroke amongst people living in Yorkshire and Humberside. The findings, based on a UK-wide survey of 2,000 adults, show that:

Three quarters of people living in Yorkshire and Humberside (76 per cent) did not know that stroke is one of the world’s biggest killers

Just a quarter of people living in Yorkshire and the Humber (26 per cent) said they thought they would be most likely to have a stroke as they got older.

Julia MacLeod, Regional Head of Operations in Yorkshire and the Humber at the Stroke Association, said: “It’s extremely worrying that most women don’t even have stroke on their radar. We know that women’s stroke risk significantly increases as they get older, and one in five women will have a stroke in their lifetime.

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“This should serve as a wake-up call to women of all ages to be aware and better informed of the steps they can take to reduce their stroke risk. Simple lifestyle changes, such as keeping blood pressure under control, exercising regularly and stopping smoking, could significantly lower women’s likelihood of having a stroke.

“Stroke can hit you out of nowhere and rob you of your speech, your ability to walk, your memory, your independence and your dignity. This devastating condition kills three times as many women as breast cancer every year.

“On World Stroke Day, we’re urging women in Yorkshire and Humber to have a better understanding of their risk factors for stroke. We offer advice, information and support for anyone worried about stroke and its impact. The condition doesn’t have to be inevitable; together we can conquer stroke.”

To mark World Stroke Day, the Stroke Association is launching a new fundraising campaign aimed at raising awareness of the impact of stroke on women.

n To find out more, and to view information and support available, visit