'I taught myself to read and write again.' Woman shares story on recovering from a stroke during brain surgery

Máirín Ní Bheacháin.

43-year-old Máirín Ní Bheacháin has shared her story of how she taught herself to read and write after suffering a stroke during brain surgery.

The former Dublin teacher and mother-of-two, told the Ray D'Arcy show that she began feeling odd symptoms as she taught her class in the Mary, Mother of Hope school, where she had been teaching for 14 years.

"I was in class one day and tried to say something, but the words just wouldn't come out, as if my tongue was swollen or something," she said.

For five years, Máirín said she knew something was wrong, but didn't know what it was. Sometimes she would suffer from migraines and lose feeling down the entire right side of her body.

"I would be walking down the corridor and go limp, and in class my hand would start to tremble and I wouldn't feel it."

Eventually, Máirín went to a neurologist who said there was a chance she might be suffering from Hemiplegic migraines, the symptoms of which mimic stroke, but despite taking the medication, it didn't help.

You just get on with it because there's no alternative.

Máirín took a year and a half off teaching and began seeing a psychotherapist, but it wasn't until she went back to teaching and got a scan, that doctors diagnosed her with Moyamoya.

Moyamoya is a rare, progressive cerebrovascular disorder caused by blocked arteries at the base of the brain.

"Only 50% of oxygen was getting to my brain, so that's why I was having these, like, little mini strokes, so apparently I was like a ticking time bomb and the only way you can treat it is by having brain surgery, because they have to cut you open and then just see can they create other pathways to let the oxygen in."

Máirín had a stroke during the surgery, but can remember waking up and feeling like herself, and being delighted, even though she couldn't speak.

I remember thinking, I can't feel my hands, and I can't feel my face, but I'm really lucky because you can't tell that and it doesn't show.

It was only when a friend handed her a fashion magazine that she realised she couldn't decipher any of the words and that she could no longer read.

"My mum came every single day and we would do, I'd call it homework I guess, and we'd do some reading, writing, spelling, all that."

However, as she recovered, she was frustrated at not being able to do the things she used to be able to, such as making a cup of tea.

"Even getting a bus in to town, people would be afraid to let me off on my own, because you can't explain that you're fine.

"Obviously I was broken in some ways, even getting the bus, trying to recognise the letters."

With the help of her sister, Máirín wrote a letter to Dress for Success, founded by Sonya Lennon, which helps people get back into work.

Máirín was taken on as a stylist and not long after, Máirín began her own company, MoStyle.

"Strokes affect people in different ways, so you know, I could have been paralysed and I know some people have, so that's why I say I am grateful, because I know how much worse it could have been. I could have died, basically."

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