Long Sutton mum tells of her agony after her 10-year-old daughter suffered a stroke
The mother of a 10-year-old girl who suffered a stroke is sharing her story to raise awareness of the condition.
Gracie Whittick, of Long Sutton, was getting ready for a day at school when she had the stroke on September 26.
Now her mum Hayley Clark is hoping to raise awareness of the symptoms of strokes, which include facial and arm weakness along with speech problems.
Strokes in children are rare, with only around 400 cases recorded in the UK each year. They are caused when the blood supply to the brain is cut off.
While she is making good progress, Gracie has a long journey ahead, she was discharged from hospital on Tuesday (8) but now faces speech therapy, physiotherapy and occupational therapy. She will also have some counselling.
Hayley said: "It was just another normal start to the day. Gracie had just had breakfast and I sent her upstairs to finish getting ready for school. Then her older sister Amy called down and said Gracie was acting all weird. The next thing I know Gracie is coming down the stairs, she stumbled the last few steps and collapsed into my arms.
"I thought she had just fainted, but when I looked at her I could see her face was drooping and her arms and legs were straight and weak and I thought it looked liked she had a stroke because she had all the symptoms you see in the adverts on the tele.
"She couldn't speak when she came round and I immediately called an ambulance and said 'I think my 10-year-old daughter has had a stroke'."
Gracie was whisked to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital at King's Lynn where tests and scans confirmed Hayley's fears and Gracie was then blue-lighted to Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge.
"That was the worst journey of my life. It was absolute agony, I just kept telling the driver to go faster, I just wanted to get her to the hospital. Every time the paramedic put his head through from the back I feared the worst - it was just horrendous," said Hayley, who has three other children: Adam, 21, Amy, 17 and two-year-old Charlie.
Once at Addenbrooke's Gracie was taken straight to the operating theatre where she under-went three hours of surgery to remove the clot from her brain. The clot's position made the procedure more complicated for the surgeons, who had to insert a line from her groin to her brain to suck it out.
So far all the tests to find out why the stroke happened have come back as normal and Hayley believes once the last of the results are back she will be told "it was just one of those things".
Now she wants to warn other parents that strokes are something that people of all ages, including children can suffer. They are not just associated with old age.
"It has been a horrible shock. We might never know why she had the stroke, but doctors say the chances of her having another one are low. But this one just came out of the blue.
"Thankfully I recognised the symptoms, thanks to those television adverts, and I was able to get Gracie the help she needed quickly. If I had not done that then things could have turned out much worse, we might even have lost her.
"Everyone needs to be aware of the symptoms, and if anyone including a child, shows any of the signs: drooping face, slurred speech, leg and arm weakness then they should call 999 straight away - it might save their life," added Hayley.
More by this authorSarah Cliss