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Getting back into sport after a stroke from head injury

Keen sportsman and fundraiser Graeme Cadas had a stroke after a head collision playing football, but efforts from his friend mean he can now continue his charity work

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Graeme Cadas enjoying a kick about

Greame Cadas from Hartlepool has had a passion for sport his entire life.

The 49-year-old has often put this love to good use as well, completing a number of fundraisers for a range of charities.

He raised £5,000 for the Denise Taylor cancer trust and Bradley Lowery by running up Ben Nevis twice in two days and also completed the Great Manchester Cycle.

One sport he particularly loves is football he had been playing for and helping run his local team Hartlepool TECH for a number of years.

However he could never have foreseen that this passion would lead him to one day have a stroke.

On Easter weekend in 2017, Graeme was playing for his beloved TECH when he collided heads with an opposition player.

He thought nothing of it as he claims he felt fine afterwards but it wasn’t until two days later that the effects of this would fully reveal themselves.

After enjoying a takeaway and a night in on the Sunday, he woke up on the Monday to make himself a cup of tea and go back to bed.

Not long afterwards his son Jack, who was 15 at the time, found him on the floor suffering a stroke and immediately called an ambulance.

Graeme says his memory is very blurred after this, with the next thing he can remember being waking up in hospital.

Doctors would later reveal that this was due to that innocuous head collision he suffered, much to his surprise.

“I didn’t even know I was having a stroke at the time,” Graeme said. “It was a complete shock when the doctor said it had come about from heading that person, I couldn’t believe it.

“The biggest shock was that I thought a stroke was just an old person’s injury or illness.”

From this Graeme had to undergo months of rehabilitation where he relearned to walk and talk but he had nothing but praise for the staff that helped him

“I was very lucky as to when it happened,” he said. “It was pre-COVID and the NHS staff and nurses were amazing.

“I had physios coming three times a week to my house. I lost about a year but they helped me do my own rehab which I still do to this day.”

Because the stroke occurred in the left side of his brain he can no longer fully use his right side but admits he is extremely lucky he didn’t lose his speech permanently.

For many this would stop them ever attempting sport again, but Graeme’s friend Mario did not want to let his enthusiasm go to waste.

He has now set up a fundraiser to get Graeme a specially designed left-handed trike that he can use to get out and resume exercising.

The device will cost around £4,000 with Graeme overwhelmed by the support he has received so far.

“It’s been amazing,” he said. “People have been so generous it’s unbelievable, I can’t wait to get on it.”

As well as getting him active again Graeme is looking forward to using the trike to continue his fundraising efforts

This charity work is something that stays in the Cadas family, with his wife Amanda completing the Stroke Association’s Resolution Run alongside Jack in 2018 for the cause.

One thing his stroke has not stopped him doing is getting involved with Hartlepool TECH, which he now helps manage after stepping back from the pitch.

It only took Graeme three months to get back involved with the team and he said he was ‘delighted’ to jump at the chance of helping out again.

The club are now returning this favour with a race night to try and raise the last £500 he needs to purchase the trike.

Graeme constantly thanked those who helped him while speaking to NR Times, but admitted the person he owes the most to is his son who’s actions saved his life on that day four years ago.

To donate to his fundraiser and find out more, click here.

MS

“I found out I was pregnant shortly after my MS diagnosis”

It has been a whirlwind last few years for MS patient Annie, whose diagnosis, sparked from getting a fly stuck in her eye, came just weeks before her first pregnancy.

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MS diagnosis
Annie and her daughter Aubrey

A Multiple Sclerosis (MS) diagnosis is often a life changing event, with huge worries and concerns being overriding emotions for those who are told they have the condition.

This was exactly the case for 30-year-old Annie, who found out she had MS just weeks before she discovered she was pregnant with her first child.

For years she had been suffering with fatigue and tiredness, but despite spending hours doing her own research she could not work out what was causing it.

After numerous hospital visits, she was given a diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome, although Annie said she ‘never really felt like that was the correct diagnosis’ for her.

It would take a strange coincidence for her to eventually discover the problem, after she got a fly stuck in her eye in June 2020.

 

She experiences blurred vision for a few days following this, which led her to visit the options who referred her to John Radcliffe Hospital (JR) in Oxford.

An MRI scan was taken with doctors finally unveiling the MS, giving her the diagnosis a day later.

This would be a lot to take for most people, but Annie had an extra layer added to this shortly afterwards when she found out she was pregnant.

This led her to be concerned about what affect her diagnosis would have on her child.

“I did quite a bit of research myself and I spoke to my midwife,” she said. “I was also under care at the JR called Silver Star, which is for people with a high-risk pregnancy.

“I asked a lot of questions just really regarding my baby and if it would affect her in any way and I was reassured that there’s really a minimal chance that it can be passed on.

“That was my main concern but I also looked at if I would get more symptoms, but it seemed from the research and speaking to people that actually MS symptoms seem to stop when you’re pregnant because of your hormones.

“So I actually really enjoyed it, I had quite a nice pregnancy.”

Thankfully there were no issues during her pregnancy and she gave birth to a healthy baby girl named Aubrey in April.

However for this reason she did not want to start any form of treatment until after this and was worried that symptoms would start soon after.

Annie admitted her diagnosis was a shock as she did not know much about MS nor did she know anyone who had it.

However she was determined to not let it change anything.

“When I found out initially, that day was quite shocking,” Annie said. “But I’m quite a practical person so I just got on with it, that was where I was at.

“Since I’d had this for years and it’s not changed who I am or affected me massively, it’s just a thing I have.

“I didn’t want it to define who I was or be an excuse for not doing things. In the future it might be more of an issue and hold me back a little bit more, but at the moment it’s just one of those things that I can’t change.

“I’ve got so I might as well just live with it. I’ve told my close friends and family about my diagnosis, but I don’t feel like the world needs to know.”

Annie’s positive outlook is what has allowed her to continue her life to live her life and she has certainly not let it stop her doing anything.

She was midway through her Masters degree when she was given her diagnosis, but she managed to finish that and continues to work full-time as a human resources advisor.

This was challenging for her when it came to things like long periods of concentration or trying to view data, but as mentioned previously Annie never wanted MS to be an excuse for anything.

Currently she says she has not had many issues with the condition, saying the tiredness felt by many is something she is used to now.

However she has been receiving help from the MS Trust, which was her first destination when she wanted to learn more about it.

“I went to the MS Trust and the MS Society’s websites because that was the most reliable information.

“When I was first diagnosed I didn’t know anyone with MS so it was a good place to start some research and actually understand what it was and how it could affect me.

“After a diagnosis you might go online and look at a website that’s not hugely reliable and it’s always the worst case scenario that you read about.

“But things like its forums and having people that are actually going through the same stuff, it was good to look at.”

Looking to the future Annie says she would love to eventually give back to the MS Trust, suggesting she could attempt to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in a fundraising effort.

At the moment however she is just looking to live life normally.

Having just turned two months, Aubrey is healthy and has had no issues impacting her from her mother’s MS.

Annie confessed looking after her daughter keeps her busy but she wouldn’t have had it any other way.

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MND

RAF veteran goes to great heights to fund MND research

Jumping out of a plane thousands of feet in the sky isn’t for everyone, but MND patient Lez Wainwright is putting this fear aside to give back to a cause that helped him.

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MND
Lez and his wife Anita

A former RAF serviceman with motor neurone disease (MND) is ticking one thing off his bucket list to raise money for charity as he completes a skydive.

51-year-old Lez Wainwright was diagnosed with the condition in February and began thinking about all the things he wanted to do in life.

One of these is a skydive and even though he had served in the Royal Air Force (RAF) for nine years, it is something he has never done before.

“After my diagnosis I decided to do a bucket list,” he said. “A skydive was one of the things I’ve always wanted to do.

“Originally I was too scared but I thought now is my chance to get it out the way with and get it done.”

Not only will Lez get the satisfaction of being able to tick this off his list, but it will also be used to help others by raising funds for the MND Association.

His two step daughters, Alice and Charlotte Parker, will also be taking part as they look to support the charity that was there for Lez.

He said the charity has been ‘very helpful’ since his diagnosis, being a contact to help him any time of day and even setting up a speech monitor for when he needs it.

Although Lez was diagnosed earlier this year he admitted he had been noticing symptoms from as early as 2019.

The first signs came when he began to rapidly lose weight. Then his legs began to give way which resulted in a number of long hospital visits for him last year.

Once he received his diagnosis he found himself stunned.

“I didn’t really know much about MND in the beginning,” Lez said. “My wife did, but it was a shock.

“When I was told it was a life changing illness it really shocked me and I became quite scared of it.”

Now Lez is looking to help others in a similar position to him by raising as much money as possible.

Initially the target was to collect £680, helping cover the cost of the skydive with the rest of the money going to the MND Association.

However the coverage his efforts have received mixed with the generosity of others means they have raised nearly £1800 so far, with Lez thrilled with how much it has taken off.

Although this extra funding is key he said that raising awareness about the condition is just as important.

“With awareness can come funding as it is all rolled into one. Currently there is not a lot of awareness about MND.

“It is getting better but funding is desperately needed and if I can raise even a single penny to help find a cure then I’m happy with that.”

The rest of Lez’s family are also chipping in with their own fundraising efforts, with his stepson-in-law competing in the Great North Run later this year for the same charity.

He spoke about how happy he was to see the efforts go ‘viral’ after a number of his friends also committed to helping raise money through their own charity runs.

As for the rest of Lez’s bucket list he is looking much closer to home, saying what is top of that for him now is spending quality time with his family.

To find out more and donate to Lez, click here.

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News

Healthcare worker links her stroke to COVID-19

A healthcare worker who contracted COVID-19 has said the disease contributed to her having a stroke weeks later.

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Pauline Price

55-year-old Pauline Price was working on the COVID ward at Sunderland Royal Hospital when she noticed she was feeling unwell.

Following the correct protocol, she quickly got tested and found out she had contracted the virus, resulting in her taking three weeks off work and losing her sense of smell and taste.

In the midst of the pandemic, Pauline returned to work, stepping up to help her fellow NHS workers who were already stressed and tired because of the huge workload necessitated by the pandemic. 

After returning, her condition did not improve. She continued to get severe headaches and on one specific day began to feel very nauseous.

She attempted to grip her phone and noticed her right arm wasn’t working and then subsequently collapsed.

Luckily a friend found her and after she was admitted to hospital, Pauline found out she had a blood clot in the back of her brain which had led to a stroke.

“I was absolutely devastated,” Pauline said. “I was really scared because I live on my own.

“Never in my life was I expecting this, I was really numb and I just could not believe it as I was only 54 and healthy.

“Now I forget things as the stroke has left me with memory problems and I’m on blood thinners for the rest of my life.

“After it I just couldn’t get up, I was exhausted and I felt like an 80 year old.”

Furthermore she had to learn to walk again and still suffers from severe fatigue.

Doctors told her that they could not conclusively say that her stroke was linked to her contracting COVID-19.

However, having seen much of the news recently about the connection between the conditions, Pauline was convinced.

Although most of her mobility has now been restored, she said the physical effects of the stroke were only half of the problem.

She spoke about the lack of support she received after she was discharged from hospital.

“People similar to me are just getting left by themselves, they are suffering in silence,” she says. 

“The doctors didn’t really say anything to me, I’ve just been left to get on with it.

“When I came out of hospital after two and a half weeks they said they would have appointments ready for me, but it was only two phone appointments and that was it.”

Pauline thinks it is crucial awareness of the potential links are highlighted, saying that research is vital for doing this.

The Stroke Association is one organisation that is doing this, having recently launched its second study looking at the long term effects on patients who are diagnosed with COVID-19 and later suffer a stroke.

This comes after the group’s initial study which was the world’s largest when it came to looking at this connection.

Pauline was also full of praise for this charity, saying the help she had received from them has been ‘absolutely marvellous.’

Other organisations have also been looking into this link with studies from America already proving that stroke is a risk factor for COVID-19.

The virus has also been linked to other neurological conditions such as dementia and depression according to scientists from the University of Oxford.

“Research has to be highlighted more,” Pauline said. “People need to know that charities like the Stroke Association need money for research. Everyone knows someone that’s affected by stroke.”

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