Husband saves wife’s life after spotting signs she was having a stroke
A woman feels "lucky to be alive" after her husband saved her life on their wedding anniversary when he spotted signs she was having a stroke.
Kyle Fahey, 34, a lead maintenance engineer, from Lincoln, noticed his wife Catherine's face was "drooping" and, after giving her a fireman's lift over his shoulder, rushed her to the nearest hospital.
The 34-year-old mum and fitness enthusiast was in bed asleep in the early hours of the morning on the couple's 13th anniversary, when her husband noticed something was seriously wrong.
At 1am on the 19 September, he had woken his wife to let her know the kids were in bed but noticed her mouth had sagged significantly on the left side and her speech was slurred.
After being told an ambulance would take two hours, Mr Fahey acted quickly by carrying his wife into their car and rushing her to A&E at Lincoln County Hospital.
There doctors explained Ms Fahey was having a stroke and administered vital medication called Alteplase, which works most effectively within the first four-hour window.
Due to her husband's quick thinking, the university administrator only spent two days in hospital and has since made an incredible recovery, surprising the doctors who treated her.
"Kyle absolutely saved my life – and on our wedding anniversary too," Ms Fahey says of the events.
"It's just amazing how he knew."
Having been together since they were 19 and married at 21, Ms Fahey believes it was knowing his wife so well that helped Mr Fahey notice the vital change.
"If it had been anyone else, they wouldn't have known the way Kyle did," she adds.
"It means the world what he did for me."
The couple had been having a quiet family night at home – watching a film with children Alfie, 14, and Bella, 11 – before their 13th wedding anniversary the following day.
"We'd been watching The Lion King with the kids," Ms Fahey explains.
"I went up to bed, and Kyle followed me not long after.
"I'd already been up to go to the bathroom once and I felt fine.
"He turned the light on and started talking to me, telling me both the kids were in bed.
"He asked if I was OK, but as soon as I replied he could tell something was wrong.
"I had absolutely no idea," she continues. "In my head, I thought I was talking and acting fine, but I wasn't.
"He got me to try and stand up and put both arms out in front of me, but I had zero mobility in my left side.
"I even tried drinking water but it just fell out of my mouth."
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Ms Fahey says the reason her husband knew what to do is because he'd recently seen the Stroke Association's adverts on television, so, he immediately called 999 suspecting his wife was having a stroke.
After being told the wait time for an ambulance was two hours, he found an alternative way to help his wife.
"He literally had to fireman's lift me down the stairs and into the car," Ms Fahey explains.
"We had to leave the kids, but luckily Alfie is old enough to have looked after Bella while we were gone.
"He just told them we needed to go out for something and we'd be back soon, he didn't want to worry them.
"When we got to A&E Kyle just dumped the car and ran in to get a nurse and it was when I saw her face I knew something was really wrong."
After undergoing a CT scan doctors confirmed what Mr Fahey suspected – his wife was having a stroke.
Following treatment in A&E, Ms Fahey was admitted to the critical stroke unit on Monday 19 September – her 13th wedding anniversary.
"Because Kyle acted so fast, doctors were able to treat me really quickly," Ms Fahey explains.
"I was on the medication within an hour."
Over the course of a few hours the mum-of-two's condition improved significantly, and she was walking again by the fourth hour.
Mr Fahey remained by his wife's side the entire first night.
"Alfie and Bella came up to the hospital to see me the next day with teddies and care packages, which was lovely," she says.
"To think I might never have seen them again, it's so scary, I couldn't be more grateful to the hospital and my amazing husband."
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Incredibly Ms Fahey was discharged just two days later on 21 September.
"My mouth on the left-hand side is still a tiny bit sagged, and I have some blurred vision, but I have been completely discharged from physio and speech therapy," she explains.
"I'm on cholesterol tablets and blood thinners for life, and because my vision is blurred I now how to wear glasses.
"I can't push myself exercise-wise as much as I used to, and I've been advised to make sure when I go on runs I'm not alone.
"I have to keep an eye on my heart rate zones when I'm exercising too."
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Due to her age and dedication to fitness, doctors were surprised at Ms Fahey's stroke diagnosis.
"I'll have to keep going to the hospital for follow-ups, but we may never find a cause," she explains.
"I've had some stress at work recently, and they said it could be related to that.
"I've realised work stress just is not worth it. Your health is the most important thing."
Having been given medical clearance to build up her exercise again, Ms Fahey plans on taking part in a race next year to help raise awareness about the signs of a stroke for the Stroke Association.
But despite her positive prognosis, Ms Fahey is still adapting to life post-recovery.
"Sometimes I feel very frustrated," she says.
"I feel quite low at times, especially when people tell me what I can't do, but I'm also very grateful.
"It could have been a lot worse.
"Me and Kyle were joking the other day about 13 being unlucky for some, and how it all happened on our 13th wedding anniversary.
"He absolutely saved my life and for that I love him more than ever."
Read more: Mum left disabled after doctors dismissed stroke as 'high blood sugar'
How to spot someone is having a stroke
The symptoms of stroke can vary from person to person and may depend on the type of stroke someone is having, but the NHS uses the F.A.S.T acronym to list the main signs as:
Face – the face may have dropped on one side, the person may not be able to smile, or their mouth or eye may have drooped.
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 notice any of these signs or symptoms.
Other symptoms to watch out for include a severe headache with no known cause, dizziness or loss of coordination, balance issues and problems with coordination, vision problems in one or both eyes, numbness or weakness in the face and difficulty swallowing.
What to do if someone you are with is having a stroke
"Stroke changes lives in an instant, but the brain can adapt. If you think you or someone you know is having a stroke Act FAST and call 999 as a stroke is a medical emergency," says the Stroke Association.
If you have been affected by a stroke, including as family, friends and carers, you can call the Stroke Association's helpline on 0303 3033 100 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Its online tool – My Stroke Guide – also gives you free access to trusted advice, information and support 24/7, connecting stroke survivors to its online community to find out how others manage their recovery.
Additional reporting SWNS.