A YOUNG stroke survivor has spoken of her remarkable recovery.
At the age of 34 Kerry Brereton was left unable to speak, read or write after suffering a stroke.
Now three years later she has regained her ability to read and write and some of her speech.
Kerry, from Denbigh, first noticed something was wrong when she couldn’t put a clip in her hair or say good morning to her daughters.
“Within the hour I couldn't read, write, the television made no sense and I couldn't stand any noise,” she said.
“My husband came home - he'd gone to work early and he realised something was seriously wrong. I thought it was due to stress and fatigue and that afternoon I went back to bed.”
But when she woke up, Kerry’s situation had not improved, and she later checked herself in to A&E at Glan Clwyd Hospital.
A scan revealed a ‘large left tempero-parietal infarct, a stroke which resulted in expressive dysphasia and right sided paresthesia’.
“It was very difficult and at the time very scary, it changed my life.” said Kerry.
“I wasn't able to drive for many months, I couldn't go to a shop counter because I knew what I wanted to say, but the words weren't there. I couldn't read a newspaper or a book, and it took months until I was able to watch television. The initial few months were very isolating.”
During her recovery, Kerry completed a language therapy programmed with the North Wales Brain Injury Service.
“I can only commend the work they do,” she said. “They were instrumental in my recovery as were my husband and my daughters.
“When I should have been helping them with their homework they were teaching me to read and write again. At the time they were only seven and four-years-old.”
Kerry, who now lives in Colwyn Bay, was born in Denbigh and is the director at Denbigh Timber.
She began to design a teddy bear mascot for the company during her recovery.
The mascot soon developed a life of its own as Kerry realised the company didn’t make products for young children.
This led to the creation of Tim Timber, a nine foot tall bear who visits primary schools to raise awareness of the importance of school and outdoor education.
Tim Timber also has his own range of products, including a storytelling area, a pencil fence and an acting school.
“I wanted to mirror my recovery in the Tim Timber story, where Tim encourages children to understand the importance of school,” said the mum-of-two.
“He was bullied and was different to the other bears. But because he learnt of others before himself, Tim found friendship.”
As well as raising awareness of outdoor education, Tim Timber also aims to get funding for the schools and encourages children to get involved in his competitions.
He asks the children to design a specific product and whichever pupil/school wins, their design will be developed and displayed in the school grounds.
The winner gets the chance to visit Denbigh Timber Products and see their winning product being made.
Kerry plans to eventually start selling the Tim Timber bears, and aims to donate some of the proceeds to the Stroke Association.
“Tim worked hard and never gave up. He says to children, always work hard and your dreams can come true like his” said Kerry.
“From myself, I say to other stroke victims and their families use the tools you are given and never give up.”
Think FAST. Stroke warning signs:
FACIAL weakness: Can the person smile? Has their mouth or eye drooped?
ARM weakness: Can the person raise both arms?
SPEECH problems: Can the person speak clearly and understand what you say?
TIME to call 999