News - 13th March 2019

From stroke to start line

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Whiteley parkrun regular Stephen Doherty explains how he overcame suffering a stroke to run his first ever race, the role walking at parkrun played in his recovery, and how he found his way to parkrun 250 miles away from home!

 

In August 2016, after a weekend of feeling unwell with dizziness and sickness, I was eventually admitted to Blackburn Royal Hospital. Two days later, scans diagnosed me as having suffered a stroke, in effect a left cerebellar infarct plus multiple small recent infarcts in the right cerebellum.

 

As a result of this, I was left with severe weakness in my legs and struggled to actually stand without going dizzy. Over the following days I was given treatment to help me learn to stand and walk with the aid of a frame, and after eight days I was discharged to the ongoing care of the local community stroke team in our home.

 

At that time we were living in Lancashire, the East Lancashire Community Stroke Rehabilitation Team provided my aftercare. This consisted of exercises to build up my core strength, balance and weakness in my legs; this lasted for about 10-12 weeks with the team visiting our home twice a week in the beginning, then once a week as I progressed.

 

I found my home Whiteley parkrun in a rather unusual way, given that it was located 250 miles away from our home in Lancashire! We had been travelling to visit two of our daughters in Whiteley for more than 10 years, and always liked the area. So we decided to move to Whiteley in May 2017.

 

Our eldest daughter regularly took park in parkrun and suggested I could do it as I could walk around with the Tail Walker in my own time, and in September 2017 I completed my first walk in a time of 53 minutes.

 

I was a little self-conscious at first as I thought I was holding everyone else up, but in all the time I have been doing it I have received wonderful support and encouragement from both the organisers and other participants.

 

I have now completed over 50 parkruns here in Whiteley and reduced my PB to just over 38 minutes. As my physical health has continued to improve, I recently took part in my first race – the 5k Resolution Run at Netley Abbey in aid of the Stroke Association, where I raised over £300 for the Stroke Association.

 

Like many parkrunners, I’ve also discovered volunteering, undertaking my first stint as a marshal at one of the events as a way of giving something back to the event for all the support I have received.

 

parkrun really has become a Saturday morning family outing for us, with two of my daughters, my son-in-law and my granddaughter regularly taking part, as well as my daughter’s partner. Occasionally, we’re also joined by my other daughter and son-in-law when they are visiting.

 

On top of that, I also applaud the setting up of the junior parkrun here, which has allowed our grandchildren to take part on a regular basis. Our eldest grandchild, who is eight years old, has also completed the 5k on several occasions and was very proud to receive her junior 10 milestone t-shirt.

 

parkrun has been a tremendous asset in my recovery from my stroke and I would encourage anyone recovering from illness of almost any kind, after taking medical advice, to seek out their local parkrun, and walk, jog or run at their own pace, just like I do. Long may it continue.

 

Stephen Doherty

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