Radio DJ to begin podcast series highlighting how stroke can hit at any age

File image of man suffering an headache

A national radio DJ who had to leave the airways because of a stroke two years ago is now about to launch a new series of podcasts to highlight the fact that the condition can hit any age.

After thirty years as a broadcaster, Gerry Stevens (52) had to hang up his microphone temporarily when he suffered a brain haemorrhage while watching TV on November 1, 2017.

"I had just been visiting my mother-in-law in hospital in Naas and was chilling out, watching TV with my partner Ann when I suddenly didn't feel very well," said the Q102 DJ

"I didn't have an event but I just didn't fell very well. I was nauseas, hot and my tongue all of a sudden felt very large.

"Ann noticed that the left hand of my face had dropped. I used to make a living out of being able to speak but all of a sudden, I couldn't control my voice and my tongue just wouldn't work for me.

"I started getting pins and needles in my arms and within ten minutes, I definitely knew that I was in trouble as my left hand, arm and leg stopped working.

"I tried to get out of the chair but just fell over. "

During the four months he spent in hospital, Gerry, who hails from Duleek, Co. Meath, said he was surprised to meet people of all ages who had suffered a stroke

"When I was growing up, a stroke was something that happened to your Granny and was a sign of old age but that's no longer the case.

"It's now a common occurrence even in the under 40s. There are 10,000 stroke cases in Ireland every year and 2,000 of these die.

"Much is down to lifestyle and I was leading a busy life touring around and managing bands but I didn't think I was stressed. I didn't get any warning signs.

"Unlike 85% of most stoke victims, I didn't have a clot, I had a brain haemorrhage and had undiagnosed hypertension with a reading of over 200.

"It was the scariest time of my life. Everything just stopped and I no longer had any control.

"All of a sudden, I couldn't talk or drive and had lost all power on my left hand side. When I spoke, I sounded angry or drunk or both.

"I spent three months in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda learning to talk and walk again - all the things I took for granted.

Gerry Stevens
Gerry Stevens

"I was always the same person in my head but I just couldn't get out my thoughts verbally in the best way possible

"I was using a hoist and a wheelchair and my dignity and self-esteem had disappeared so I had a very low opinion of myself.

"The staff both there and in Dundalk Hospital where I spent another month were fantastic and I can't praise or thank them enough."

Two years on and Gerry still has spasms in his foot and has trouble moving his left hand but he is back driving and has just bought an adapted motorcycle.

He also decided to record a series of podcasts with victims and medics in an effort to raise awareness of the condition.

"I haven't the confidence yet to go back on the radio so I decided to record podcasts on stroke from all angles.

"The main thing is to remember the acronym FACE to recognise a stroke - Facial dropping, Arm Weakness, Speech Difficulties and Time to call emergency services. Time is brain and you lose 100,000 brain cells a minute so it really is of the essence.

" I've interviewed nine people of all ages about their experience of stroke but as well, I've talked to registrar at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital Dr Zul Khalil on his observations of each of the patients as they came in and also to the clinical nurse of the Specialised Stroke Unit Fiona Connaughton on the progress and recovery of each patient. "

The podcasts will be launched later this month and further information can be obtained here.

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