Walkerbot Appeal: Heidi’s story

Photograph of Heidi

Heidi, 33, went to bed one night and woke up to find her whole life had been turned upside down.   

“I’d just started a new job and I was touring with the band playing drums. Five days before the stroke I had done a 6km swim down a river for charity. Life was pretty busy. 

“When I woke on the morning, I tried to get out of bed and couldn’t stand. At first, I thought I must have just slept funny, but it started to dawn on me that I couldn’t move the left side of my body. I told my partner that I thought I was having a stroke and, while he called 999, I remember lying on the floor thinking that part of my brain was literally dying away in that moment.” 

When Heidi arrived at Southmead, she was taken to the Acute Stroke Ward where she stayed for the next 6 days. She’d had an Ischemic stroke, which occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery that supplies blood to the brain.  

“Because I’m overweight all I could think was that I’m 33 and I can’t believe I’ve done this to myself. Being a big person, I’ve had some bad experiences with doctors over the years where I have been made to feel very guilty. I was worried I was going to get blamed and that I wouldn’t be given the same level of care as everyone else. But from the moment I arrived at Southmead I couldn’t have been more wrong.  

“The care I received has restored my faith in health care. I felt in such safe hands and respected and cared for in a way that I’ve never felt before.” 

“Within 24 hours the Physios got me started on rehab and quite quickly I managed to regain the tiniest movement in one of my toes. It wasn’t much but it gave me hope.” 

Then began a whirlwind of rehab over the next 40 days.  

“When they asked me to try and stand, I thought they were crazy! There was no muscle tension in my entire left side, I felt like half of my body was attached to a giant sack of potatoes. It was terrifying, but I have very rarely ever had such complete faith in a group of humans in my life. They really made me believe that I would walk again.  

“The more I could move, and repeat movements, the quicker my recovery became, like a snowball effect.”  

Heidi made a remarkable recovery. By the time she left Southmead she could walk with just a stick for assistance. Now, almost two years on, she is drumming and swimming again and life is pretty much back to normal.  

“I am just so thankful to everyone at Southmead that gave me my life back.” 

The Walkerbot Appeal

Southmead Hospital Charity is on a mission to help stroke survivors and patients with other neurological conditions regain their independence and mobility.

We want to raise £428,660 for a groundbreaking piece of equipment called a ‘walkerbot’ that will help patients learn to walk again. Your gift could make the difference.

Thank you for your support – it makes a huge difference to our patients, their families and our staff.

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