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Louth newlywed who suffered stroke after her honeymoon issues urgent warning


A newlywed who suffered a stroke said more awareness is needed as “it can happen to anyone of any age”.

Katie Woods, 26, added she had no warning signs and was fit and healthy when the Ischemic stroke hit her last August.

She and husband Joseph, 30, had returned from honeymoon and she was getting ready to return to work.

The social care worker, from Co Louth, added: “I had no warning signs. I just woke up this morning and I went to put my wet hair in a towel.

“I had my head bent over and couldn’t understand why the towel would not go on my head.”



Katie is pictured on her wedding day with her husband Joseph.

Looking at her right arm Katie saw, “it was basically just lying on the ground beside me. It was really scary, and the fact I was on my own made it a 100 times worse”.

She added: “I got dressed with one arm. I knew there was something wrong. Every time I lifted it up and let it go, it would just fall back down. It was completely paralysed from my shoulder blade to my fingertip.”

Then the room started to spin and her sight went in her right eye.

Despite falling over twice, Katie somehow managed to ring Joseph.

She said: “He could not understand me. I did not realise I could not speak until he answered the phone. I was trying to say, ‘I need an ambulance,’ but no words came out. It was like my brain was not connected to my speech.”

After ringing her mum Rose, Katie recalled: “She knew straight away. She said ‘Stay on the phone, I am on the way’.”

Rose also remembered the ad on reacting to a stroke featuring FAST – Face, Arms, Speech, Time.



Now recovering after her totally unexpected Ischemic stroke, Katie Woods said that, only for I knew about the F.A.S.T. adverts on the TV, I wouldn’t have known what was happening to me.

Katie said: “She asked me to put my arms up in the air and I thought I was doing it and I wasn’t.

“My left arm was completely up and my right arm wasn’t but I couldn’t see out of my right eye.”

Rose drove straight to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda, and on the way Katie began to have, “the most horrendous headache I have every had”.

She said: “It was like someone whacked me across the head with a hammer.”

In the hospital she was told “you can’t be having a stroke, you are too young”.

However when scans and an MRI were done, she was told she had suffered a full-blown stroke. Six weeks later Katie had a procedure in the Mater to close a hole in her heart she did not realise she had.

The doctors think it could have been the cause of the stroke as it may have cut oxygen supply.

Katie regained her speech and vision relatively quickly but still needs therapy for her arm.

She said: “I am very lucky. The fact I was so young played in my recovery going so well.

“Never in a million years did I think this would happen to me as I was young, fit and healthy.

“I want to make people more aware. It can happen to anybody, it doesn’t matter what age you are.”

As Katie did not have a facial droop, it shows victims do not have to have all of the classic symptoms.

She is optimistic and positive about the future for her and Joseph who has just started treatment for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Cancer.

Katie said: “Some people go through 50 years of marriage and never experience these things and in the first six months, we have gone through all of this.”

Dr Angie Brown, of the Irish Heart Foundation said: “Strokes in young adults is uncommon, comprising 10% to 15% of all patients but of course can have devastating consequences.” She said they are preventable by stopping smoking and checking blood pressure and cholesterol.

Dr Brown added: “It’s also important to know the signs and symptoms.

“FAST – F if the Face is drooping on one side, A is the Arm [or leg] weak.

“S if the Speech is slurred and T for Time to call 999 and get to the emergency department.

“Other symptoms can include numbness on one side or confusion and difficulty finding words. Seek urgent medical attention.

“The sooner the treatment can be done the better chance of recovery.”



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