Lancaster KFC worker who had to learn to walk again after suffering stroke at work is planning daily runs to raise funds for Royal Preston Hospital
A young woman who suffered a stroke at just 23 years old has shared the emotional story of her recovery as she tries to raise funds for the staff that helped her at the Royal Preston Hospital.
Charlene Carrington was working an ordinary shift at KFC in Lancaster July 24, 2019, but it was a day that would change her life forever.
She had been suffering from "splitting" head pain, which she had put down to a migraine, but suddenly she felt dizzy and faint and shouted to her boss for help.
She recalls: " She sat me on the floor, and the whole left of my body started tingling. She gave me a drink of water but it poured out of the left side of my mouth.
"Being 23 you don't ever think something like that will happen, but I knew it wasn't right.
"I remember screaming that I was having a stroke.
"It's a blackout after that - my colleagues said I was talking and being sick but I don't remember.
"Stroke in young people is not common and that's why there needs to be more awareness - many people would not know - my colleagues didn't really know - what to do because being so young you don't expect it.
Charlene, who lives with her partner Emily, 26, on St John Street, Great Harwood, was taken to the Royal Lancaster Infirmary but then transferred to the Royal Preston Hospital, where medics found she had suffered a right sided intracranial haematoma. The bleed had caused a stroke and she was told if she did not have head surgery she could die.
Further tests led to Charlene being told she had an AVM - a previously undiagnosed abnormally sited blood vessel in her brain, which had ruptured.
Due to its location she could not have open head surgery and had to undergo gamma knife surgery - a type of radiation therapy used to treat tumours, vascular malformations and other abnormalities in the brain.
She said: "I had suffered pain leading up to that day, and brushed it off as being a migraine or down to the hot weather, but it became severe that day at work."
The diagnosis was the start of a long journey for Charlene, who spent eight weeks in hospital on ward 2A in Preston with devoted Emily by her side.
They had to have an external drain in her head to drain the blood and fluid.
She says: " I want to get as much word out about my fundraising as possible and give the ward the appreciation and gratitude it truly deserves because those nurses, doctors, healthcare assistants, cleaners, were absolutely incredible. They were my angels in disguise.
"They've given me the recovery I've had - I can never give back what they've done for me.
The effects of the stroke are long term for Charlene, who had to transfer to the Rakehead Neurorehabilitation Centre in Burnley for four months after her stay in Preston to learn how to walk again, before finally coming home - a total of six months.
She explains: " It affected my mental health for a long time.
"It still affects my mobility and I've had to accept that's going to be the way it is.
"It left me bed bound for six months.
"Coming home should have been a happy occasion but at the same time it was daunting because I got used to having nurses around and feeling safe.
" At home you're on your own and it's scary. I can't drive or work at my previous job. I still have double vision.
"But I'm determined to get back to normal as much as I can."
She says Emily, whom she met six years ago online, has been "amazing", adding: " Nothing can break us now!
"She was literally sat by my side in intensive care and she wouldn't leave me - I'll never forget that."
Charlene will be doing a two mile walk everyday for the whole of April in hope of raising money via her JustGiving page for the Lancashire Teaching hospitals charity.