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Lurgan man recalls day he suffered stroke without realising what was happening

Noel Mitchell from Lurgan in Northern Ireland, shares his stroke story and how he made lifestyle changes to reduce his risk of having another stroke

A Lurgan man has spoken of the moment he suffered a stroke and walking around “like a drunk man”.

Noel Mitchell, 57, had a transient ischemic attack (TIA), also known as a mini or small stroke, in June 2020.

Noel recalls the day it happened: “I just felt so ill and disorientated. I was walking like a drunk man and I couldn’t seem to get my balance.

“My left eye wouldn’t focus at all and the headache was awful.

“I decided to lie down and see if I could sleep it off. The next day my eye sight had returned to normal and I felt a bit better but I knew things were still not quite right. I eventually phoned my GP who arranged for tests at Craigavon Area Hospital just to be on the safe side. Low and behold, a CT scan showed that I’d had a stroke.

“Now, six months after that episode, I still live with bad fatigue and problems with my balance. I’m having to sleep a lot more than I ever did. I suppose I thought I led quite a healthy life style before and I just expected to recover quickly but that wasn’t the case.

“One thing I’ve taken away from this whole experience is, to make a conscious effort to lower my stress levels. I enjoyed my job but there was a lot of pressure and it could be stressful.

“I now feel the need to reassess what’s important in life and I’m determined to watch out for my stress levels and make time to relax and take care of myself.

“For me, getting away to our family caravan is my ideal essential rest and relaxation. I was never a big drinker but since this happened, I’ve just cut out alcohol completely and make sure I eat a very healthy diet.

“Before all this happened I enjoyed triathlons and running, swimming and canoeing but all that’s been put on hold. I suppose the worry of having another TIA is always there at the back of my mind.

“I’m trying my best to build up my walking again. My main priority now is to get well enough to get back to work, get on top of this fatigue and start doing some of the activities I enjoyed before my TIA.”

According to Stroke Association survey nine out of ten stroke survivors in Northern Ireland would warn their younger self to change their lifestyle.

As a first step, the Stroke Association wants people to make one small change to reduce their risk of stroke.

The leading change survivors would urge their younger self to make, would be to reduce stress levels with 46% saying they would have done this. Other changes stroke survivors would have made include:

– Monitor blood pressure – 37%
– Exercise more – 32%
– Eat more healthily – 32%
– Lose a set amount of weight (for example one stone or ten kilograms) – 28%
– Stop smoking – 25%
– Drink less alcohol – 24 %
– Monitor high cholesterol – 22%
– Reduce salt intake – 17%

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