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Clodagh's standing tall as she leaves hospital

Published 14/11/2015

As 35-year-old Clodagh leaves Musgrave Park Hospital in Belfast, laughing and smiling with her partner, Adrian Campbell, it's hard to believe that just seven months ago she woke up in intensive care, almost completely paralysed
As 35-year-old Clodagh leaves Musgrave Park Hospital in Belfast, laughing and smiling with her partner, Adrian Campbell, it's hard to believe that just seven months ago she woke up in intensive care, almost completely paralysed

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then Clodagh Dunlop's smile speaks volumes.

As 35-year-old Clodagh leaves Musgrave Park Hospital in Belfast, laughing and smiling with her partner, Adrian Campbell, it's hard to believe that just seven months ago she woke up in intensive care, almost completely paralysed.

A massive stroke resulted in locked-in syndrome, leaving Clodagh fully conscious, but unable to move any part of her body other than blinking.

She was unable to communicate with her family, or anyone else, and described having been inwardly screaming as she couldn't move.

Sheer grit, determination and a positive attitude resulted in Clodagh slowly regaining her power of speech against staggering odds and she has spent the summer undergoing intensive physiotherapy.

In August, she was delighted to walk a few steps for the first time in front of her sister, who had been there on the tragic day she suffered the life-threatening brainstem stroke. She described it as an emotional time for everyone. Her achievement is all the more impressive as people with locked-in syndrome rarely make any significant recovery and it proves fatal for the majority of sufferers.

Over the last seven-and-a-half months, Clodagh took to Facebook to chronicle her astounding recovery and the difficulties of her journey.

She described learning to speak again, adjusting to life in a wheelchair and having to re-learn simple actions such as blow-drying her hair and cooking a meal.

As she left Musgrave Park Hospital on Thursday, it was among hugs and tears for the nurses who helped her in her recovery. The Magherafelt woman has now returned to her family home to continue her journey.

She hopes one day to go back to work but, for now, she will continue to raise awareness that strokes can strike down anyone, of any age.

She paid tribute to the staff at Musgrave Park Hospital, her family and, of course, her partner Adrian for their help during her ordeal.

kerry mckittrick

Belfast Telegraph

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