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Neuro rehab patient stories

“My baby was crying for me to feed her but I couldn’t move to get her.”

“I can safely say it is the most horrific feeling.”

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Megan Flower was away on holiday with her two children when she collapsed whilst getting up for a drink in the middle of the night.

Here, she shares with SR Times her story of overcoming being told she had very little chance of survival, staying in a Portuguese hospital and locked in syndrome.

“I was always very physically fit and was full of energy” says Megan, “I used to work in the city, but I hated working behind a desk so I became a personal trainer alongside my desk job. I would train people at night and weekends which I loved”

Megan had planned a holiday to Portugal along with her now ex husband and their two children, her youngest was only 8 months old at the time, this is where she had her stroke.

“I had been doing some strenuous exercise on the beach during the day and felt fine, but as the day progressed I started to feel off. I didn’t give it much attention though and we went to the pub with the kids and had a lovely evening.” 

A lovely evening would transpire into life changing in the early hours of the next morning, Megan tells us: “That night I got up for water and collapsed. I knew I had had a stroke. I couldn’t move and the pain came in waves. It was like a cycle of the things I felt, pain, relief, numbness and pain again.

“I lay there till morning. My baby was crying for me to feed her, but obviously I couldn’t move to get her. I think that was the worst part.”

Due to Megan and her ex husband not sharing a room, he was left unaware that she’d collapsed, she tells us : “The only thing I could slightly move was my ring finger and I just kept tapping the radiator I was lying next to in the hope that he heard.

“After what seemed an eternity he finally came to see where I was.”

An ambulance was called and Megan was rushed into a local hospital for assessment “I was terrified, my mind was working but I was locked into my own body.

“I can safely say it is the most horrific feeling.”

Eight hours post stroke Megan was blue lighted to Lisbon, which was an hour away.

On the cause of her stroke, Megan tells us: “I was given very little chance of survival as a clot had travelled through a rather large hole in my heart, which I had no knowledge of, into my brain.”

The decision to operate was left upon her ex-husband, who made the right call and Megan thanks him alongside the “wonderful doctors at Santa Maria Hospital” for saving her life.

Megan spent two weeks in the hospital, she tells us that: “I could barely walk. I couldn’t talk yet, I kept choking on all my food and no one spoke English and the average age on the neuro ward was about 75 and I was 37.

Megan’s children had to return home, she tells us the struggles of missing them: I missed my children terribly as they had to the UK without me, I was still breastfeeding my baby at the time of the stroke, so that was even harder.”

After a further two week stay in a hotel, Megan was allowed to fly home.

“Luckily when I got home I was fortunate enough to have private health care so my rehabilitation could start immediately. I was told it would take about 3 years to get better, I refused to believe that but it was true.”

Megan tells us what lessons she learnt from stroke: “Recovery is a long hard progress. I was also diagnosed with PTSD and I was very sad for a long time. I felt stupid and inadequate. Physically I learnt to take care of my body more and not to push myself so hard.”

After the hole in her heart was fixed and time in counselling, Megan tells us she began to feel better and get back in to personal training: “I requalified with the ARNI institute to become a stroke rehabilitation instructor.

“That is what I do now and I love my job. I think stroke has taught me to be a better person in the long run, to not be so selfish and impatient.”

Megan finished by telling us that: “I feel extremely happy and grateful to be alive.”

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