WHEN author, songwriter Ned Egan suffered a stroke last September his many friends and admirers feared the worst.
But Ned, following excellent medical attention at Ardkeen and St Patrick’s Hospitals has made a swift and remarkable recovery.
Now, in addition to resuming his musical and literary projects, Ned is anxious to get a message across: If you get a stroke, it’s not the end of the world.
The important thing is to be treated as soon as humanly possible. The quicker the better: the latest medical advances mean that this is not the horror story it was in the past.
Stroke victims nowadays can survive and make very good progress and/or a complete recovery.
Ned recounts here his experience of the dreaded ‘Big S’:
“I’d always thought of strokes as only happen to old folks – and other folks. And there was I, a youngster of 81, sitting by my fire, looking at David Attenborough chatting about jungle animal. Then the time came – 2am – for beddybyes.
“Up I tried to get from my deep chair. One try – fell back in. After five tries I stood up – only to fall off forward and to the left.
“Landed in a heap, I did. Not like the famous Ali butterfly, more like a sack of spuds.
“Ah, vertigo” I said to myself, peering at the lino at extremely close quarters. I tried to get up: It was difficult enough. I somehow managed to, eventually – then fell again – into the cat’s porridge and other stuff.
“Still believing in ‘vertigo’, I struggled up again – then fell on a big table, pulling it over, the edge catching my left hand.
“A nasty wallop ensued, and all the tableware landed on my head. “I got up after a while, staggering across the kitchen.
“Bloody vertigo, I moaned. I dragged myself upstairs, couldn’t crawl properly. I kept flipping on to my back like a turtle. I took an hour to get up on the bed.
“It was about 4am by then. I hung in there for about 16 hours. That ‘vertigo’ was a real nuisance. Things got hazy then; I’d earlier tried texting Margaret O’Neill, a singer I had dealings with, to explain the ‘vertigo’.
“My texting took an hour or so. The ‘buttons, I thought, were acting silly.
“Then Martha, a friend in the USA rang – about 18 hours after I first fell. She thought I sounded very odd or drunk and she rang Michael Moroney, a literary friend of mine.
“He arrived shortly after, thank God, found me in a sorry state, and quickly disabused me of the ‘vertigo’ theory.
“He informed my daft self I’d had a stroke. Odd, I’ve never been stupid, yet that idea had never occurred to me.
“Michael called Ardkeen Hospital and it sent paramedics in an ambulance. Such brilliant people, professionals to a tee!
“They took me to Ardkeen Emergency Section. I was received there by some mighty people, all extremely competent and kind.
“They hoisted me gently onto one of the famous trolleys, apologizing profusely that a bed wasn’t available in the Stroke Ward – but nevertheless doctors from there were continually looking in on me – everybody was great.
“People talk about cutbacks and overcrowding and a crisis in the health sector. But I found myself in what might as well have been, for me in that situation, a 5 Star Hotel for 3 Star customers.
“After a day or so, I was taken up to the Stroke Ward, where I was put under the microscope by the top-class staff there, who gave me treatment fit for a king.
“And their work meant I was sent to St Patrick’s Rehab after three weeks – another great institution, with the same effective happy atmosphere as Ardkeen.
“Stroke has changed my life – no more driving. A few other things that may remedy themselves, in time. May not.
“I salute the magnificent staff at Ardkeen and Saint Patrick’s, to whom I owe a huge debt of gratitude. The people of Waterford sure are lucky.
“To anyone worried about a stroke creeping up on them, see your doctor.
“To anyone who has suffered a stroke I say: If I can recover at my age, you can too.
“There’s life after stroke, and I am living proof of it.”