‘I felt like I’d lost my life after my stroke’

Katie Simpson with her daughters
Katie Simpson with her daughters

A mum-of-two who tragically lost her third child after suffering a stroke whilst pregnant has spoken out against plans to cut support services.

Katie Simpson, 30, from Seaford, had several mini-strokes and a stroke in 2013, leading to clots in her baby’s placenta.

The mini-strokes (also known as a TIA or transient ischaemic attack) started when she was 16 weeks pregnant, but were initially thought to be migraine symptoms.

Weeks later doctors suspected the truth and needed to perform a CT scan of Katie’s brain.

As she lost feeling in her body, and her speech started to slur, doctors had to make the heart-breaking decision whether to save Katie’s life by preforming a CT scan, or to deliver her unborn baby first.

At 21 weeks pregnant, Katie gave birth to her son, stillborn.

Scans confirmed that Katie had had several mini-stokes, and a stroke on the left and right side of her brain. The strokes were caused by an undiagnosed blood condition called Antiphospholipid Syndrome, which thickened her blood, causing clots on her brain and also in the umbilical cord.

Katie spent four days in hospital before moving into her parents’ home with her two daughters.

She was left with severe fatigue, a communication difficulty called aphasia, left sided weakness in her body, chronic pain, and she could only eat pureed food.

The Stroke Association supported Katie when she left hospital, and have continued to do so over the last five years.

Katie said: “At the age of 25 I couldn’t believe I had had a stroke – I never thought you could have a stroke so young. At the time my daughters were only four and seven years old.

“I felt like I’d lost my life after my stroke. It was really difficult. All of a sudden the simple things I’d naturally do with my children were really challenging.

“Walking was difficult, cooking, using kitchen utensils, reading a bed time story, trying to help your children ready for school – it’s so sad when you are the adult, and you can’t do their buttons on their tops, or tie their laces, putting their hair up was all impossible at that time!

“I remember just crying because I felt like a failure, and that I couldn’t meet their needs like they needed me to.

“Not only did I have to come to terms with losing my baby, I had the added trauma of recovering from a stroke.

“It has been a challenging roller coaster over the last four years which has left me with permanent disabilities.

“I still have a numb face and fingers, along with severe nerve pain and chronic fatigue.

“After a stroke your life is completely turned upside down in an instant, and it affects you emotionally and physically.

“I have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from the trauma, and with the support from the Stroke Association, I’m still carrying on with therapy to help this.

“The Stroke Association have been a lifeline to me and was there from the start throughout my recovery. When you have a stroke, you can’t imagine all the hurdles you’re suddenly faced with, it’s terrifying.

“They helped me fill out forms, apply for support and help with benefits, they listened to me and helped me understand what I was going through.

“They funded me with a grant which allowed me to buy my own anticoagulant machine which helps me manage my Warfarin medication which I’ll be on for all my life.

“This gives me some independence back rather than attending my doctors every few days.

“I owe so much thanks to the Stroke Association for being there for me and my family through my darkest days and bringing me out on the other side.

“Hearing there may be potential cuts to the Stroke Association’s funding is outrageous, as without them there is no help in the area, there is no hope, support or guidance.”

For more information about the proposed cuts and what they will mean to local services visit https://e-activist.com/page/19221/action/1