In June 2018, eight year old Issy was about to start her weekly dance class when she had a severe ischemic stroke caused by a blockage cutting off the blood supply to the brain. Issy was fit and healthy, with no pre-existing health issues.
Issy was transported to St Peter’s Hospital in Chertsey, and placed into a medically induced coma before being transferred to St Georges Hospital in Tooting, where she was taken to the PICU ward. There an MRI scan confirmed that Issy had in fact, had a stroke.
“I knew what a stroke was”, explains mum Candice, “and I knew that they continue to be one of the leading causes of death and disability in the UK – but what I didn’t know was that a stroke can affect anyone.”
Issy woke up on her third day in hospital. She couldn’t talk, she couldn’t sit. She just lay there. “Seeing her awake, I could finally breathe again. You could see it in her eyes she was scared”, says Candice, “but she tried to give us a smile.” Issy was diagnosed with aphasia – a speech and language impairment - and paralysis on the right side of her body, with drop foot. The stroke had left her unable to talk, to swallow, to walk or even to sit unaided. She had lost all her basic skills.
Issy was transferred to the Nicholls Ward and surprised everyone when she started to make progress. Her speech slowly improved, she re-learnt to swallow foods and was soon able to stand and sit unaided. Drinking fluids and walking took a little longer. Issy had severe drop foot and a hyper extended knee which would snap back when she put any weight on the right leg.
Exactly eight weeks after her stroke, Issy arrived at The Children’s Trust in Tadworth, Surrey for an intensive rehabilitation programme. Issy was talking, but in simple sentences. She had a short attention span and still struggled finding words. She could walk but needed to strengthen her muscles around her hips and glutes in order to minimalise the limp she had, and had no strength in her right arm.