A young mum left unable to care for her children after suffering a major stroke at the age of 23 has learned to walk and talk again at the same time as her baby daughter.
Stacey Legrice was left trapped in her own body after the sudden brain attack, which left her “like a baby” and unable to move or communicate.
The mum-of-three found herself learning to walk, read and brush her hair at the same time as her baby daughter Aurora who was aged just one when she fell ill.
Stacey ended saying her first word just a week before before her daughter who is now nearly three years old.
Stacey, now 25, said: “I was learning to do everything again at the same time as my youngest, Aurora, who was learning for the first time.
“I started with children’s books so we did that together.
“We were brushing our teeth together and brushing our hair together.
“That was quite incredible actually.
“I didn’t ever think that at 23 I’d be learning to walk and talk at the same time as my youngest daughter.
“I was the first one to say my first word.
“I was watching the TV and the Compare The Meerkat advert when ‘Sergei’ just popped out.
“I was so overjoyed because I had spoken.
“I’m a keen singer, so not being able to talk destroyed me.”
Following her stroke in March 2014, Stacey, who is also mum to Leo, 7, and Tommy Lee, 4, had to learn to do everything again with the help of husband Jason, 30.
He gave up his job as a metal worker to care for her.
She said: “It was like I was a baby to begin with, just like Aurora.
“All I could do was stand for about five seconds.
“It was so frustrating. I looked in a mirror and couldn’t even smile because the muscles had died.
“But Aurora and I began learning to do things together.
“It was lovely because she was copying a lot of the things I was doing – I learnt to brush my hair after six months and Aurora started copying me.”
Although Stacey reached most of her key milestones shortly before her daughter, she explained how Aurora was the first to learn to eat.
Stacey’s ordeal began with a “bad headache” before she started to lose her speech, and the feeling down her right side.
She was rushed to see specialists at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge who told her family to expect the worst.
Stacey, from Lowestoft, Suffolk, said: “Doctors told them that the speed the blood was flowing through my brain was the same as when you’re in a fatal car crash.
“I was in excruciating pain and I couldn’t even say so. My family were absolutely distraught.
“I was left dependent on my husband who still cares for me now.
“The scarring on my brain that’s left means I can suffer from seizures every few months.”
But despite the tragedy, the mum-of-three said she believes the experience has made them stronger as a family,and she now hopes to use her experience to train as a nurse and midwife.
Stacey added: “It’s my kids who have got me through, especially Aurora, as we have been able to do everything together and see each other’s success.
You normally associate strokes with old people. But because I was only 23 I still had the kids to get better for. They gave me something to fight for.
“If we can get through this we can get through anything.”
Alexis Wieroniey, Deputy Director for Policy and Influencing at the Stroke Association, said: “One in five women will have a stroke in their lifetime.
“The risk of stroke in young women is low, but you can have a stroke at any age.
“High blood pressure is the single biggest risk factor and contributes to over 50% of strokes. Even though high blood pressure has no symptoms you can take steps to keep it under control.
“Getting your blood pressure tested regularly, exercising, eating healthily and stopping smoking will all reduce the likelihood of having a stroke.
“If you want more information on stroke then you can call our Helpline on 0303 303 3100, if you are worried about your stroke risk then speak to a GP.”
– Stacey began to walk two weeks after suffering the stroke, and was allowed home to see Aurora take her first steps just a week later.
– Stacey said her first word, ‘Serge’, after about two weeks, while watching TV in hospital. Aurora said her first word, ‘Daddy’, just a week later. The pair then learnt about one word a week.
– Stacey was able to brush her hair after six months, and Aurora then followed suit.
– Aurora learnt to eat while her mum was still in hospital. Stacey started to eat a month later.