NI student faces long road to recovery after coronavirus causes stroke

A 22-year-old student from Northern Ireland is on the long road to recovery having contracted coronavirus and a week later suffering a stroke.

Tuesday, 4th May 2021, 12:23 pm
Updated Wednesday, 5th May 2021, 9:21 am

Conor Mills, who is from Belfast, was at university in Bristol, living with friends in shared accommodation, when he began to feel unwell in November last year.

His symptoms included loss of taste and smell, lack of appetite and muscle and joint pain and nausea. As the days progressed, Conor was convinced that he’d contracted Covid-19, but things were to get even worse.

A few days later Conor woke up to find that he’d lost his speech completely and the movement in his right hand.

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Student Conor Mills who got Covid which led to a stroke

He said: “I’d been asleep and woke up to find not only that I couldn’t speak, but I couldn’t understand what others were saying to me. I was unable to move my right hand and felt like my brain was going crazy. One of my friends who shared the house with me, phoned 999 and an ambulance rushed me to hospital where they confirmed that I’d had a stroke.”

Conor spent three weeks in hospital where he recovered well but was left with aphasia and a loss of feeling in his right hand. He came back to Belfast to recover.

He said: “It’s been tough as I find speaking difficult at times. Communicating has become so difficult. There’s times I can’t find the right word and I have to stop.

“I’m receiving speech and language therapy which is really helping but I get frustrated. I now have a few techniques that help such as writing down the words I want to say.

“At the moment I’m unable to feel temperature with my right hand. There’s been times when I’ve burnt myself cooking as I just can’t feel hot or cold with that hand.”

Conor said: “Right now I don’t know if I will go back to my course at university. I want to take a really long look at my choices and figure out what I actually want from here on in.

“Soon after the stroke it hit me that my recovery is going to take a while and I can’t change that so, I might as well approach it with a positive attitude. I suppose that one positive thing I see now is that I’ve been given this opportunity to rethink my future but I know my recovery will take as long as it takes.”

Conor’s story coincides with the news that the Stroke Association is funding the world’s first study to determine the long-term impact of Covid-19 on stroke survivors.

Since the start of the pandemic there have been widespread reports of adults with the virus also having strokes. It is thought that the virus could be increasing the chance of blood clots forming in the brain and blocking blood flow.

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Alistair Bushe