Strichen teenager backs charity call for a focus on stroke
A Strichen teenager who had a stroke when she was just 14 is supporting a charity’s call to ensure stroke remains a clinical priority in Scotland.
The Stroke Association in Scotland has launched its manifesto ahead of the Scottish elections in May amidst concerns that current stroke improvement work could be lost to Covid-19.
Colin Oliver, Public Affairs Officer for the Stroke Association in Scotland, said: “The fallout from Covid-19 is going to pose challenges for everyone in health and social care.
"Emerging evidence of links between Covid-19 and stroke means that now, more than ever, a renewed focus on stroke is needed in Scotland.”
Brenna Collie had a stroke four years ago. She was in her bedroom texting a friend when the phone slipped from her hand and she realised she couldn’t pick it up again.
“It happened very quickly. I lost all movement down the left side of my body. I couldn’t walk. My speech was all slurred and I couldn’t call for help. I’ve never felt so scared.”
She knows only too well that her life would be very different without the stroke specialist treatment and support she received.
Brenna received good care throughout her stroke journey. She underwent thorough investigations and received speedy access to treatment. She had intensive rehabilitation which helped her to walk again and begin to return to an independent life.
“I had to learn how to do things I took for granted like getting dressed and brushing my teeth. I have received amazing support from health professionals, my teachers at school, family and friends. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say how tough it’s been.
"After coming home from hospital, I started to have problems with anxiety and my self-esteem. At school, I was ‘the girl who’d had a stroke’, and many of my classmates didn’t understand what had happened, which made school challenging. That was hard and I felt very alone. But I’ve pulled through and my family have been my rock.”
After returning to school Brenna slowly picked up her hobbies again including cycling, archery and photography. In 2019, she won the prestigious Scottish Portrait Award Young Photographer Award for a self-portrait of how she felt the night she had her stroke.
During lockdown, Brenna took to cycling and has cycled 22 miles to Fraserburgh and back – a big moment for her. Her granny has also taught her how to knit over the lockdown period, which helps strengthen Brenna’s weak arm.
Brenna is now studying Primary Education at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh.
The Stroke Association in Scotland is urging people to read its election manifesto and to support its call for the implementation of a new progressive stroke service. You can read it at www.stroke.org.uk/scottish-parliament-election.