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‘I felt robbed of everything I’d worked hard for, and who I was’

Marina Ukhalova shares her experience of the life-changing impact of stroke



Entrepreneur Marina Ukhalova had to give up her dream job working in beauty after her stroke. Here, she shares her story of when stroke struck and the impact it has had on her life


Marina, 32 of Kensington, had a haemorrhagic stroke last July.  

The stroke left Marina with paralysis down the right side of her body, and with a communication disorder called aphasia, which left her unable to talk.

Marina, a beauty business owner, explains feeling like her life was over after having her stroke. Marina had to give up doing her dream job and is still living with the daily effects of her stroke.

“I specialise in eyelash extensions, and opening and owning my beauty business was a huge achievement for me. After my stroke, I was robbed of so much, it felt like my world had come shattering down,” she says. 

“Not only do I struggle physically, but also mentally. I really did try to get back to doing my day job, but sadly it wouldn’t work. 

“Thankfully I’m fortunate enough to be in the position to employ staff because I couldn’t imagine having to shut the business down. 

“I’m sad I won’t get to do what I’ve worked so hard on all these years, but my passion for the business will never die.”

Marina is sharing her story to help raise awareness of stroke in young people, in response to findings that show over half of the UK population believe it is something that only affects older people.

At the time of her stroke, she was living alone and woke up one morning feeling really unwell. 

Marina explains: “I felt dizzy and sick, and had an excruciating pain in my head. It felt like a sharp knife digging into my brain; my whole head was throbbing. 

“I knew something was seriously wrong, but as I got up to get my phone I collapsed to the floor and passed out.”

This is where Marina stayed for the next 12 hours. Unable to shout out or move, Marina was helpless. 

Marina’s sister, who was in a different country at the time, began to get concerned about Marina, noticing she hadn’t been active on WhatsApp for over 12 hours. Usually speaking daily, Marina’s sister knew that it wasn’t like Marina and alarm bells started to ring.

Marina said: “Everything feels like a bit of a blur, but I remember my phone ringing. As my phone rang, I distinctively remember trying to pull my body across to floor to reach it, but I had no strength. 

“Every time I moved, I would be shocked by the pain, and pass out again. In the moments of consciousness all I could pray for was someone to know I needed help.”

Marina’s sister knew something wasn’t right, and incredibly, she rang a friend nearby to Marina’s home to check on her.

Marina during her time in hospital

Marina said: “I remember hearing voices outside my front door and felt a huge sense of relief was knowing I was close to getting help. 

“But I couldn’t speak, I couldn’t move – and I was just lying there unable to tell those people I was inside and needed help. I began to moan loudly in the hope they would hear me. 

“Thankfully the police were called, and my door was knocked down. As they rushed in and asked me questions, I tried to talk but nothing was coming out.”

With the support of her sister and partner, Marina worked on her recovery every day, regaining her speech slowly, and the movement in the right side of her body.

Marina said: “There’s still some way to go with my recovery. I’ve had good days, but also bad days. 

“Before my stroke I was very fit, active and sociable – I felt robbed of everything I’d worked hard for, and who I was. 

“I’m slowly understanding life after stroke though, and working hard on not only my physically issues, but mentally too. I’ve learnt to be patient. 

“Now I want to turn this horrible experience into something positive – to help others.”

  • The Stroke Association is aiming to raise awareness of the support it provides for stroke survivors of any age across the UK, to help rebuild lives and support stroke survivors to achieve their life goals. To find support available locally, use the search tool or call the Stroke Helpline on 0303 3033 100.