Francesca Murray is taking her life back after her stroke. Photo: Robbie Reynolds

Fundraiser to thank local medical teams

A mother of 2 who mistook a stroke for a hangover is gearing up for a 10km challenge to thank the Cork medical teams that helped her reclaim her life.

Hairdresser Francesca Murray, 45, suffered paralysis on her right side and lost her ability to walk after the terrifying emergency.

However, the Dublin woman has since gone from managing just a few steps by her hospital bed to training for next month’s Women’s Mini Marathon.

Francesca’s stroke was spotted by her childhood friend who is a nurse and who called emergency services, and Francesca was airlifted to CUH.

“It was supposed to be my friend Natasha’s wedding but she cancelled because of Covid-19 and 30 of us went down to Kerry in June 2020 to celebrate anyway,” said Francesca.

She continued: “We had a session in her house in Ventry and went to bed. I got up, felt a little groggy and decided to have a painkiller and went back to bed. Even getting sick a short time later was no different to a bad hangover.”

When Francesca’s condition deteriorated and she began slurring her words, bride-to-be Natasha called 999 and she was rushed to CUH where she began a lengthy process to learn how to walk again and recover her eyesight.

“I couldn’t speak, I had right-side paralysis and couldn’t move, I couldn’t swallow, had to be spoon-fed and had a catheter in,” said Francesca.

She added: “I remember the doctors around the bed saying I‘d had a stroke. It was horrible. But what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. It gave me a whole different outlook on life. They (the medical teams) said they had no way of telling at the time how permanent the damage was.”

In CUH, Francesca’s care was managed by the stroke and physiotherapy teams as she gradually rebuilt her strength, underwent speech therapy, and battled extreme fatigue and the stress of restricted movement.

“Losing my peripheral vision meant instead of walking straight, I’d walk to my right. I don’t think I understood the severity of it. They had me walking from one end of the bed to the other, then progressing to the corridor, I’d only manage a few steps before I had to rest,” said Francesca.

After a month in CUH Francesca was transferred to St Jame’s in Dublin and now only relies on medication as part of her recovery.

“You have to remember how lucky you are to have each day. I’m nearly there. I’ve joined a gym and I’m reclaiming my life. I decided to do the mini-marathon on 5 June to raise funds for CUH Charity because CUH are the ones that got me walking again.”

Glen Arrigan, one of Francesca’s Clinical Nurse Specialists at CUH, which sees more than 600 stroke patients a year, described her recovery as “incredible. What she has achieved in the last two years is an incredible story and we need to hear more stories of people like Fran,” he said.

To support Francesca’s fundraiser for CUH Charity, visit