Jillian Ennis O Boyle has overcome the effects of many strokes to complete the Vhi Women’s Mini Marathon two years in a row.
In November 2010, at the age of 32, I suffered my first stroke. It left me with no movement on my right side and my speech was affected but following a three month stay in the National Rehabilitation Hospital (NRH) I regained the ability to walk. Life after a stroke is not easy but I adapted and was able to complete my first Vhi
Women’s Mini Marathon in June 2013.
However in August 2013 I had a second stroke and over that weekend I ended up having repeated additional strokes. Following eight weeks in intensive care and an emergency cranial bypass I finally left hospital. Just a few months later though I was back in A&E with stroke-like symptoms. I was diagnosed with epilepsy and throughout the year was having up to 24-30 seizures a day.
Thankfully, following a change in medication the doctors were able to get on top of it and in January 2014, I decided to compete in the Vhi Women’s Mini marathon and got involved with the Irish Heart Foundation to help raise awareness and funds. I completed the event and even broke the previous year’s time!
I still have my underling health issues as well as the daily reminder of my disability. Some days it gets you down but I have learned to take each day as it comes. Walking is very good, not only to aid my recovery but for my mental health. Although there is so much I can do, I really miss my own independence. Family and friends have helped bridge that gap but I am a strong, independent person and l think that determination in my character has helped aid my recovery.
The Irish Heart Foundation has been a huge help to both recovery and education of all aspect of stroke. Their constant campaigning for stroke survivors has enable the HSE to roll out a dedicated stroke nurse in all the hospitals in Ireland and this service was vital in maintaining my health in 2013. In 2015 I received a Stroke Champion Award from the IHF which highlighted my story and in doing so I hope to help other stay positive and make a healthy recovery.
Crossing the Vhi Women’s Mini Marathon finish line gave me a huge sense of achievement. It took a lot of hard work over the year but in completing it I felt that I had beaten my disability. For those few hours I felt I could do anything !
My mother completed the Vhi Women’s Mini Marathon with me. She lost her battle with COPD in January this year and this event brings back strong memories of the hours we spent training together the race itself and quality of time that brought us closer together. Her big hug at the finish line is a memory I will treasure forever.
I won’t be taking part this year, unfortunately. It’s been a difficult start to the year as, as well as the sudden loss in our family, I was unfortunate to have broken a bone in my foot and it will take me a while to recover. I hope to get back to walking in the summer though and will push on for next year’s event! www.irishheart.ie/