Stroke victim praises ‘friend who saved her life’

Denise Hall (left) with Dawn Preston
Denise Hall (left) with Dawn Preston

A HARTLEPOOL woman today hailed the pal who saved her life when she suffered a stroke -– at just 38.

Mum-of-one Denise Hall suffered a clot on her brain last Christmas.

She was a rear seat passenger in her friend’s car when she felt a searing pain shooting up her legs. She admitted: “It was terrifying.”

Her terror was heightened because she couldn’t speak and could only bang on the back of the car seat to raise the alarm.

But next-door neighbour, close friend and work colleague Dawn Preston, 51, knew exactly what to do.

She spotted that Denise’s face had dropped on one side and got immediate help.

Denise, from Dunoon Road, still can’t use the left side of her body five months later and still receives physiotherapy.

She can’t even babysit for her 18-month-old grandson Ethan Hall any more. She’s had to learn to walk all over again and can not go back to her beloved job as a care assistant at the Four Winds residential home in Hartlepool.

She said: “I have never known anything like it and I never thought it would happen to me, especially at my age. I certainly didn’t think it was a stroke.”

Doctors provided the treatment she needed to prevent the clot which had caused the stroke from bursting.

She spent all of Christmas and New Year on a ward at the University Hospital of North Tees and was left with the after-effects of a paralysed left side, an inability to walk and some effect on her speech.

Her vocabulary has returned and she has learned to walk again but she relies on her family for support, especially her 19-year-old daughter Jasmin and mum Trish, 59.

But she admitted: “If it was not for Dawn it could well have been a lot worse. It could have been the end.

“I suppose I am grieving for the life that I had before I had the stroke.

“When it happened, I thought I must have stood in some glass because the pain was that bad.”

Close pal Dawn is a care assistant at the care home where she and Denise were colleagues. She said: “Denise said to me her hands had gone funny.

“I looked at her and one side of her face had drooped. Straight away, when I saw her face, I knew she was having a stroke.

“I was in shock but I knew I had to do something quick. Thankfully, Denise has come out of it pretty well.”

Denise’s memories of the drama are scant. She explained: “All I can remember is I was in an ambulance and I was being violently sick on the way to hospital.”

She said the ambulance driver told her “it’s going to be rocky” as she was “blue lighted” to hospital – the term for being rushed in on a 999 dash.

“I didn’t think I was having a stroke, but afterwards they said I’d had a mild one.”

Sadly. her case is not unusual.

The Stroke Association today launched Action on Stroke Month to get people talking about strokes and challenging perceptions that it is an inevitable part of old age and “just one of those things”.

Denise agreed that more action was needed to raise awareness.

She said: “My message to other people is get help straight away. The sooner you can spot a stroke and do something about it the better.

“I have got friends to thank for doing something about it in my case.”

She praised all the staff at Hartlepool’s stroke unit for helping her.

And she added: “A big thank you goes to the physios who worked with me daily. If it was not for them, I would not be on the mend.”