A BURY charity has made a huge difference to the live of a stroke survivor.
Jean Wright suffered a debilitating stroke eight years ago which robbed her of speech and movement down one side.
But now the 61-year-old is well on the road to recovery — and the Speakeasy charity in Ramsbottom has been the key.
Mrs Wright said: “It’s been a long journey but I’m still here, and I’m just grateful to be alive.”
It was just nine days before her wedding to fiance Vincent that the specialist nurse at Oldham NHS Hospital suddenly started getting her words wrong.
She said: “I’d been working. Vincent asked me how if I still had the headache I’d had for a couple of days and I said ‘I’ve not got a headlake.
“He said something about me not talking properly, even though I sounded alright to me, and called for an ambulance.”
In hospital, she collapsed with a blood clot to the left side of her brain, which caused paralysis down her right side and left her unable to speak or walk.
“This life-changing event heralded three months of treatment at the Royal Bolton Hospital, two years of being unable to speak properly and seven years of physio and re-learning basic skills.
She had been working as a respiratory nurse in the chest unit for many years but had cut down to working twice a week for the smoking cessation service there.
Mrs Wright had always been fit — part of a national choir, a keen ballroom dancer and walker, and was divorced with grown-up children when she met Vincent through a friend. They were due to marry at Tottington Methodist Church when she suffered her stroke.
With the wedding postponed, Mrs Wright lay in her hospital bed “feeling as though this wasn’t really happening to me” and initially not even recognising Mr Wright at her bedside.
She started treatment to deal with the clot and was eventually discharged to the couple’s new bungalow home in Bromley Cross.
With regular physio, Mrs Wright began to improve very slowly. The couple decided to have a small, family-only wedding six months after her stroke.
What did make a major difference to her life was getting involved with Speakeasy — a specialist charity involving a range of professionals and volunteers offering support and therapeutic activity to aphasia sufferers.
Chief executive Gill Pearl said: “It’s very important for people with aphasia to help them do things for themselves. Jean has become a very inspirational volunteer and has very good recall of what happened to her very early in her stroke, which is particularly useful.”