[A] staff member at University Hospital of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) put the pedal to the metal to raise over £1,400 for the Stroke Rahab Ward at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary (RLI) – a cause very close to his heart after suffering a stroke just over a year ago.
Phil Woodford, Associate Director of Corporate Affairs, has worked at the Trust for nearly 10 years, and after suffering a stroke in August 2016, he completed three months of rehabilitation on Ward 23 at the RLI.
Phil raised the money through a 200 miles recumbent trike ride in Holland earlier this year, and then took part in a unique Triathlon called the Superhero series for people with a disability in Windsor in August.
Phil said: “I remain devastated that I had a stroke at the age of 45. It changes not just the survivor’s life overnight but also their families. I had two strokes over one weekend and doctors think they were probably the side effect of prescribed medication for arthritis. As a result, I’ve been left with a very weak left side of my body and some mental health challenges, such as depression and some elements of post-traumatic stress disorder.
“I had the second stroke in the Royal Preston Hospital and the quick thinking of a nurse called Beth saved my life. However, the rehabilitation at the RLI also helped me to stay alive. I took the decision to ask to be transferred to the RLI as I was extremely frightened and I wanted to be around people I knew and closer to home and my family. As bonkers as it sounds, as a manager at the Trust, I felt I should demonstrate how much I trust my colleagues and receive my care there – something I believe strongly in. The care was incredible, and I wanted to give something back, hence I did the fundraising as my own way of saying thank you.”
Approximately 62,000 unnecessary deaths from stroke and heart attacks occur due to poor blood pressure control. High blood pressure rarely has any symptoms; the only way for people to know if they have the condition is to have their blood pressure measured.
Across the UK there are around 100,000 strokes a year. In 2015, there were 605 strokes in the Morecambe Bay area with the total healthcare and social care costs for this local group of patients being £13.4 million in 2015/16 – rising to £27.4 million over five years.
Phil continued: “A stroke essentially damages parts of your brain, which is why no two strokes are the same, but because the brain is incredible, it has been proven that it is possible to retrain and ‘re-wire’ your brain through what scientists call Neuroplasticity. I’ve worked really hard at this and practice repetitive movements and exercise every day to help retrain my brain to use my left leg and arm as I used too.
“Forget the myths, a stroke can happen at any time of your life and it is largely a preventable condition. Whilst I’ve never smoked and never drank heavily, there are some simple things you can do, such as:
- Lower your blood pressure.
- Lose excess weight and maintain a healthy weight
- Exercise more
- Alcohol — only in moderation
- Treat atrial fibrillation
- Treat diabetes
- Quit smoking
“Your GP is best placed to advise you, but high blood pressure and Atrial Fibrillation (AF) aren’t dubbed the silent killers for nothing. People with high blood pressure are three times more likely to develop heart disease and stroke and twice as likely to die from these as people with a normal blood pressure.
“As you get older, the arteries can naturally narrow but certain things can dangerously accelerate the process, such as smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. You can significantly reduce your risk of having a stroke by leading a healthy lifestyle – eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, reducing alcohol intake, and not smoking. Making small changes to your lifestyle like these really can make a difference.”
If you suspect that you or someone else is having a stroke, phone 999 immediately and ask for an ambulance. The main symptoms of stroke can be remembered with the word F.A.S.T.:
Face – the face may have dropped on one side, the person may not be able to smile, or their mouth or eye may have dropped.
Arms – the person with suspected stroke may not be able to lift both arms and keep them there because of weakness or numbness in one arm.
Speech – their speech may be slurred or garbled, or the person may not be able to talk at all despite appearing to be awake.
Time – it’s time to dial 999 immediately if you see any of these signs or symptoms.
More information on stroke can be found on the NHS Choices website at: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Stroke/Pages/Introduction.aspx.