Video: Eddie battles back from stroke nightmare

CHEEKY Eddie Chesney is today a picture of courage and determination.

CHEEKY Eddie Chesney is today a picture of courage and determination.

The 11-year-old Ipswich schoolboy was left partially paralysed and unable to speak after suffering a stroke at the tender age of ten.

Yet inspired by his love of computer games and with the support of his mum and two big sisters, the Holywells High School pupil has rebuilt his life, learning to write with his left hand and walk with the aid of a splint.

And now Eddie, of Hogarth Road, has been given an award to highlight his bravery by a national charity.


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The mischievous youngster grinned broadly as he said: “In some way it has made me a stronger person.

“The weird thing is on the Playstation2 there are some games I couldn't complete with two hands that I can complete with one.

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“My emotions have got stronger. I get upset more easily and if people say things to me I can get angry or cry.”

In November 2006, when Eddie was hit by the stroke, a condition normally associated with elderly people, his mum, Jennie, feared he might never be the same again.

But the youngster, who dreams of designing and testing video games, was so determined to be able to get back on the joy pad that he worked tirelessly to get movement back in his left-hand.

“I was really worried I wasn't going to be able to play again,” he said.

“I had to learn to write with my left hand and play my Playstation with one hand. I had to work really hard with the physios.

“They made physio more fun because I moaned. They added things like volleyball and obstacle courses.”

Six months after his ordeal, Eddie returned to Murrayfield Primary School, and just last month he started lessons at Holywells.

And now Eddie, who injects most sentences with excitable squeals and has an infectious zest for life, has been praised for his determination by a national charity.

The youngster was presented with a Certificate of Commendation in The Stroke Association's prestigious national Life After Stroke Awards for the courage he showed in rebuilding his life.

He had been nominated by his proud grandmother, Ellen Basham.

Tracey Barker of The Stroke Association added: “Most people associate stroke with older people but around 500 children a year have a stroke.

“Eddie has managed to courageously overcome the devastating effects of his stroke to return to school and we are truly delighted to award him this Commendation Certificate of Courage for his remarkable achievements.”

Has your loved one shown bravery to overcome an obstacle? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

Eddie's drama

IN November 2006, just after celebrating his tenth birthday, Eddie Chesney started to feel unwell.

But little did he or his family know that he was suffering from a stroke which would leave him unable to speak or walk.

Eddie said: “I felt sick. I was upstairs so I came downstairs, then I just fell over.

“I blacked out for a bit. My sister Leah helped me but I couldn't talk properly.

“I was really scared. I knew what I was saying but they couldn't understand me.”

His mum, Jennie, initially thought his problems might be linked to temperature fits he had suffered as a youngster.

But when the problems continued the next morning Eddie was taken to Ipswich Hospital where doctors began a series of tests to discover what had happened to the healthy youngster.

Ms Chesney, a dinner lady at Murrayfield Primary School, said: “He was talking but we couldn't understand it at all, it sounded like baby language. He couldn't walk either so I had to carry him.

“They said at the hospital that it had been a stroke and that they needed more tests done.

“I just couldn't believe it. I seriously thought it was a joke.

“You don't hear about children having strokes so I didn't think it was possible.

“They checked him quickly over and did a few tests that evening then said they were going to take him to Great Ormond Street Hospital.”

Eddie spent a week at the specialist London hospital for children, a time he found distressing as it included lots more tests in big, complex machines.

It turned out Eddie's stroke had been caused by having thin blood vessels in his brain, so he was told to take aspirin to thin his blood.

After leaving Great Ormond Street, Eddie spent a couple more weeks at Ipswich Hospital before he could return home.

But despite being allowed out of hospital his journey to recovery had only just begun.

Eddie had hundreds of hours of physiotherapy and worked extremely hard to make sure he would be able to walk, write, speak, and especially play his Playstation again.

He has a splint and still uses a wheelchair when his legs get tired and needs to take aspirin every day to thin his blood.

But he is also able to do many activities which boys who have never experienced such life-and-death drama as him take for granted, such as football, rugby, badminton and swimming.

Ms Chesney added: “I'm so proud of him. When it first happened I was in a panic that nothing would ever be the same again but he has done so well.

“He's always been quite a happy child and I'm glad that hasn't changed. He's probably even more cheeky!

“They have said there is a chance it will happen again. There is nothing they can do to stop it, just keep him on the aspirin.

“So we just get on with it because it might never happen again and you can't let it ruin your life.”

THROUGHOUT his ordeal Eddie has had the support of his loving family.

Of his mum, Jennie, 34, he said: “My mum's been really good.”

And he has also been helped by his big sisters, Leah, 13, and Eileen, 16, as well as the family's two dogs and Eddie much-loved three-legged cat, Whisper.

In fact it was Leah, now a year nine pupil at Holywells, who found him once he first suffered the stroke.

She said: “I was scared when it happened. I couldn't stop crying afterwards.

“I was really shocked.

“He is the same as he was, it hasn't really changed him.

“I am proud of him. I don't know if I'd have been this brave.”

Stroke

A stroke is a brain attack which causes brain damage.

It happens when the blood supply to part of the brain is disrupted, and the brain becomes damaged or destroyed.

Each year an estimated 150,000 people in the UK have a stroke.

It is the third biggest killer and the leading cause of severe disability.

Some strokes are fatal whist others can cause permanent or temporary disabilities such as paralysis to one side of the body and loss of the ability to speak, read or write.

Strokes can be prevented through lifestyle factors such as a healthy diet - particularly reducing salt intake, drinking alcohol in moderation, not smoking and taking regular exercise.

A stroke can happen to any one at any time. Around a quarter of strokes happen to those aged under 65, with around 1,000 happening to those under 30.

At least 300,000 people in England are living with moderate to severe disabilities as a result of a stroke.

SOURCE: The Stroke Association

CONGRATULATIONS to Eddie Chesney who has been rightly honoured for his amazing bravery and determination.

At just ten-years-old the Ipswich boy suffered a stroke - a condition normally associated with people much, much older.

But he showed courage beyond his young years by doggedly fighting until he was able to speak, write, walk, and play his beloved video games again.

With the support of his devoted family and fantastic physiotherapists, he overcame all the odds.

And despite his ordeal Eddie has remained a smiling, happy, cheeky and loveable youngster, whose infectious laugh can light up a room.

The Holywells High School pupil is credit to himself and his family and a symbol of what can be achieved when brave people put their minds to even the toughest of challenges.

He deserves all the awards and accolades he gets.

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