Stroke heroes and their carers, including Tipperary’s Mai Browne, were awarded for their bravery in fighting against the country’s third biggest killer at the Irish Heart Foundation’s Life After Stroke Awards supported by Boehringer Ingelheim in the Burlington Hotel in Dublin.
Ten awards were presented at the heart-warming event hosted by broadcaster Marty Whelan including 64-year-old Mai Browne from Clonmel who has been caring for her husband Dominick full time following a severe stroke in 2003.
Mai’s daughter Louise nominated her to receive an award and she said: “My mother has been a full time carer to my father for the past eight years since he got a stroke which left him completely unable to do anything ever again for himself. She gave up her full time job as a care assistant in a nursing home and started looking after my dad. She puts so much time and effort into looking after him and I am delighted to see her finally get some recognition.”
Every day Mai gets up at 5.30am and doesn’t stop until it’s time for Dominick to go to bed around 8 o’clock. Mai only gets one hour of help everyday to get Dominick out of bed in the morning, which means she has to put him to bed on her own every night.
Joining the heroes on the day to present Mai with the Carer’s Award was living soap legend Jim Bartley who himself suffered a stroke earlier this year on June 1. The Fair City actor who plays Bela Doyle said: “I was reading scripts when the stroke happened. I started to get a strange feeling, it just came over me. My right arm started to go numb from my wrist to the bicep. And when I tried to read, the letters kept jumping on the page. I couldn’t read them properly.”
The 66-year-old called his GP and was immediately told to go to hospital. Once there, doctors told the well-loved face of Fair City that his carotid artery was 90 percent closed and that he would need an operation. Jim said: “It was a shock hearing that my artery was nearly fully blocked and I was worried about the operation. There are no guarantees with these things and I was afraid I might have a major stroke on the operating table. But it all went well. The doctors took out a lump of grizzle as long as a caterpillar and I haven’t looked back since.”
Michael O’Shea Chief Executive of the Irish Heart Foundation said: “There are nearly 50,000 stroke survivors in Ireland today and each and every one is a winner in our book. Our charity is proud to bring to light the daily miracles and heroic efforts happening around the country in overcoming stroke and our 10 award winners represent the strength of all stroke survivors nationwide. The reality is that stroke can happen to anyone and by telling these stories we aim to give hope to all that there can be positive outcomes. We also hope it will help to keep the need for better stroke services high up on the health agenda. Because there is life after stroke, and we have the heroes to prove it.”