Watching her play with her precious baby, it’s hard to imagine this is something Joanne Davies could only have dreamed of a few weeks ago.
Just seven weeks after bringing her newborn daughter Isla home from the hospital, Joanne was torn away from her by a devastating stroke.
The 35-year-old had been shopping with her husband and two children when one side of her body “totally sagged” as she tried to open the car door.
Before she had time to realise what had happened, Joanne was being rushed to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary where a specialist stroke team told her she had a blood clot that was too large to treat with conventional drugs only.
School worker Joanne underwent a major clot extraction procedure that day and – amazingly – was reunited with baby Isla and four-year-old Emily just six days later with no ill effects.
Her incredible recovery means the family are now looking forward to a normal Christmas at home in Chester-le-Street, County Durham.
After a smooth pregnancy, Joanne gave birth to Isla on September 11 and was settling into life as a mother-of-two when disaster struck.
“Everything was fine at first, then when I was going to sleep I felt like I couldn’t breathe properly and I was getting out of breath walking up the stairs,” she said.
“I just thought, ‘you’ve been pregnant, you’re unfit, it’ll get better’.
“But my husband James was worried so we went to a walk-in centre and got sent to A&E at the Queen Elizabeth (QE) Hospital in Gateshead, where I had to stay for a couple of days for tests.”
The day after being discharged from hospital, Joanne was coming out of the supermarket with James, Emily and Isla.
“I tried to open the car door and everything just sagged. The whole left side of my body just went.”
Distraught James rang 999 and Joanne was rushed by ambulance to the QE, before she was quickly transferred to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary. (RVI)
After a CT scan, the hyperacute stroke team decided the clot was too big to treat just with clot busting medication, and Joanne was rushed to theatre for a thrombectomy (clot extraction).
Joanne said: “The procedure sounded a bit scary but it meant a better chance of recovery.
“I was awake for the procedure but it didn’t take very long, I think I was back on the ward in about four hours.
“Then the next day the physio came to check I could balance and squeeze my fingers, things like that.
“It was really quick, as soon as I came round I could wiggle my toes and shuffle a bit.”
But although Joanne was making a quick physical recovery, she was devastated at being separated from her new baby.
“It was very scary. One day I did just cry thinking I had a baby at home I should be with.
“It was hard being away from them.”
But luckily Joanne was discharged from hospital after six days with no ill effects.
She said: “At first I wouldn’t walk while I was holding Isla but I can do everything as normal with her now.
“The nurses, doctors, everyone was brilliant. Because it was a weekend, the team were called in specially to perform the operation. They answered any questions I had and reassured me every step of the way.”
Dr Anand Dixit, lead stroke physician at the RVI, said: “Treatment for managing strokes has been revolutionised in recent years. Early recognition of stroke symptoms, rapid hospitalisation and quicker advanced scanning helps identify patients suitable for advanced treatments.
“The development of the specialist hyperacute stroke unit at Newcastle has resulted in a number of advantages, including rapid diagnostic and specialist assessments.”
Source : Chroniclelive