Miracle recovery for 'locked-in' Irish police officer who suffered massive stroke
A policewoman left with locked-in syndrome after suffering a massive stroke in 2015 has revealed she is preparing to return to work next month.
Clodagh Dunlop (37) spent months trapped inside her body unable to move or speak and could only communicate by blinking as a result of a devastating brain stem stroke in April 2015.
Now the inspirational Magherafelt woman has regained her driving licence and is hoping to go back to work before the end of October.
However, her plans were almost left in tatters last week when she was rushed to hospital amid fears she had suffered another stroke.
Clodagh said: "I woke up on the Wednesday morning and I was exhibiting signs similar to what I experienced when I had my original stroke.
"I was extremely nauseous when I stood up and I had a stabbing pain in my head.
"To begin with I thought it was maybe a viral infection, but later in the evening my condition deteriorated and we ended up ringing the out-of-hours doctor and once they heard my previous history they sent an ambulance to the house.
"It was absolutely terrifying because I have worked so hard at my recovery. This past month I have been enjoying real success, I have been walking around my house unaided, I passed my driving assessment and we are looking about me getting back to work.
"They had also warned me that if I ever have another stroke I probably wouldn't survive it, so it was really terrifying."
Clodagh was taken to A&E at Antrim Area Hospital and subsequently admitted to the stroke ward.
After a raft of tests doctors ascertained that Clodagh had not suffered a stroke, and she was discharged on Monday.
"I was so relieved because I had just passed my driving assessment and if I had had another stroke I would have been off the road for another 12 months," she said.
"The driving test was the first time I had driven in 16 months and I was nervous, but the test went well and I am getting a new car next week.
"I'm so excited because it will give me back a lot of independence. I won't have to rely on family and friends to get me around.
"Having another stroke would have had a huge impact on my life." Meanwhile Clodagh, who recently attended her last appointment with speech and language therapists as her voice is finally returning to normal, is looking forward to getting back to work.
"I used to really enjoy it, I'm a people person and I enjoyed talking to people and listening to them and hearing about their lives," she said.
"I'm looking forward to having fun with my colleagues and hearing how everyone is doing.
"To be honest, I am looking forward to hearing other people's problems, just normal everyday problems, like hearing about someone complaining about what their wife made for dinner last night!
"In one way, having a stroke has made me a lot more positive as it has put things into perspective.
"I don't get stressed out about the small things. In fact, everyone who knows me says it is difficult to pick a fight with me now because I'm so easygoing."
Brenda Maguire from the Stroke Association in NI said: "The ability to express feelings of loss is even more difficult when the stroke survivor has lost the ability to speak. To find out more about support programmes run by the charity telephone 028 9050 8020."