Simple questions end in life-changing diagnosis

Angela Redman with her mum, Pam Aburrow
Angela Redman with her mum, Pam Aburrow

HAVING experienced the devastating effects of a stroke, a Chichester mum has launched a campaign to raise funds and awareness of the different types.

Being an only child, Angela Redman and her mother have a close relationship. They speak every day but that precious time is no longer taken for granted.

Halloween fundraising fun at Donnington Village Hall

Halloween fundraising fun at Donnington Village Hall

“Sometimes, life’s roller coaster ride of challenges can make you stop, think and realise how precious our time with loved ones can be,” explained Angela.

“On December 9, 2013, I phoned mum to ask about her day. Mum seemed distant and kept repeating the same story, in one tone. It didn’t sound like my mum at all, as she can normally talk the hind legs off a donkey.”

Angela’s mum, Pam Aburrow, said she had been to town with a friend called Amelia.

“I had not heard of a friend with that name before, and it seemed odd,” said Angela.

“The conversation continued to alarm me, so I jumped in the car and popped round to see her. When I arrived, she was walking around as usual and looked perfectly fine.

“She sat down to wrap a small rectangular Christmas present. While asking her questions to find out if she was really okay, I noticed that she wasn’t actually getting anywhere with wrapping the present but merely twisting it round in circles, time after time.”

Growing concerned, Angela asked her mum for her phone number, but she said she did not know. She also could not come up with her maiden name.

“I’m okay, go home,” was all she would say.

Sensing something wasn’t right, Angela calmly asked another question, the names of her granddaughters, but still Pam said she did not know.

“My mum adores her grandchildren and her response heightened my concern further, yet she still looked fine. I called for the out of hours doctor.”

When the doctor arrived, he conducted a few tests, including a urine test, and issued instructions like stand up, walk this way, sit down. The responses concerned him, so Angela was asked to take her mum to St Richard’s Hospital.

Angela said: “We arrived around midnight, without mum questioning what we were doing, but somehow she knew my actions were because of my love and concern for her wellbeing. While giving our details, mum was asked her age, to which she replied 38. I thought, who is she trying to kid!”

The nurses monitored Pam overnight and conducted more tests. Although Angela considered a stroke, there were no physical signs. Eventually, it was confirmed Pam had suffered a stroke, probably due to an irregular heartbeat triggering a blood clot.

Pam remained in hospital until mid-January. Scans showed the stroke was in the cognitive part of the brain, which affects communication and emotion.

“It was so hard for me juggling a busy family, full-time work, visits to hospital – and to collect mum and take her back to the hospital on Christmas Day was heartbreaking for all the family,” said Angela.

“The staff on Lavant Ward, were amazing and mum had daily occupational help and speech therapy as part of her recovery process. Each day was a gentle step forward from making a cup of tea, to walking around the ward.

“It is hard to say, but I realise I lost part of my mum because of the stroke back in December 2013 and it is difficult to come to terms with it sometimes.

“Mum suffers with Aphasia as a result of the stroke, which is a difficulty in communicating. She will never make a full recovery, tires quickly, gets her words muddled at times, has lost social confidence but she is still with us and we love her dearly.”

Angela’s experience has prompted her to take action to raise awareness about the different types of stroke and the importance of acting quickly.

Her mother, who worked for Marks and Spencer many years ago, is a familiar face to many Chichester residents and has lived in the town for most of her life, so she hopes her story will encourage people to provide support where possible.

“The after effects of a stroke can lead to other illnesses and we are encountering a journey through the Memory Clinic at present,” said Angela.

“While the promotional activity for stroke mentions physical elements, it is important to be aware of the confusion side that can cause people to act slightly different, like my mum.”

“My mum’s life has changed and I am starting to organise fundraising events to help generate much-needed money for Stroke Association for research, support and equipment.

Last week, the association ran its new campaign, Give a Hand to conquer stroke, and Lancastrian Infants School in Chichester, where Angela’s youngest daughter is a pupil, joined in by raising money.

The Sunrise/Sunset school club held a sponsored run around the playground for children aged five to 11.

Angela also hosted a fundraising Halloween event at Donnington Village Hall on Saturday and a total of £105 has been raised so far.

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