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'I was 26, healthy and just married - I never thought I could have a stroke'

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Katie Woods leaves the stroke unit at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital. Photos: Ciara Wilkinson

Katie Woods leaves the stroke unit at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital. Photos: Ciara Wilkinson

Katie Woods on her wedding day with her husband Joseph. Photos: Ciara Wilkinson

Katie Woods on her wedding day with her husband Joseph. Photos: Ciara Wilkinson

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Katie Woods leaves the stroke unit at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital. Photos: Ciara Wilkinson

A young woman who suffered a stroke one month after her wedding says more awareness is needed that "this can happen to anyone of any age".

Katie Woods, who is now recovering after her totally unexpected ischemic stroke, said: "I only knew about the Fast adverts on the TV, I wouldn't have known what was happening to me."

Fast stands for 'Face, Arms, Speech, Time'.

Ms Woods, now 27, knows her stroke was caused by "a little blood clot that travelled through my body and lodged in an artery in my brain".

"Never in a million years did I think that this would happen to me as I was young, fit and healthy."

Ms Woods and husband Joseph (30) had returned from their honeymoon and she was getting ready to return to work; it was August 19 last year, exactly one month since they married.

"I just woke up this Monday morning, I was due to go back to work. I am a social care worker with people with intellectual disabilities."

Her husband had left for work and she had just showered. "I went to put my wet hair in a towel. I had my head bent over and I could not understand why the towel would not go on my head."

Then she looked at her right arm and saw "it was basically just lying on the ground beside me. It was really scary, and the fact I was on my own as well made it a hundred times worse".

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Katie Woods on her wedding day with her husband Joseph. Photos: Ciara Wilkinson

Katie Woods on her wedding day with her husband Joseph. Photos: Ciara Wilkinson

Katie Woods on her wedding day with her husband Joseph. Photos: Ciara Wilkinson

"Every time I lifted it up and let it go, it would just fall back down, it was completely paralysed from my shoulder blade to the tip of my fingers."

Then the room started to spin and her sight went in her right eye. Despite falling over twice, she managed to ring Joseph but "he could not understand me. I did not realise I could not speak until he answered. I was trying to say, 'I need an ambulance, I need help' but there were no words coming out."

Then she rang her mother Rose who lives nearby in Dundalk and "she knew straight away. She said stay on the phone, I am on the way".

Her mother drove her straight to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, and on the way Ms Woods began to have "the most horrendous headache. It was like someone whacked me across the head with a hammer".

She speaks highly of the care she received there and in the Mater Hospital.

Six weeks later she had a procedure to close a hole in her heart discovered as part of the follow-up to the stroke.

She is optimistic and positive about the future for her and her husband. He has just begun treatment for Hodgkin's lymphoma.

He was diagnosed three weeks ago and began chemotherapy. "He is the most positive and brave person you could ever meet."

Irish Independent