A Kirkcudbright Primary School teacher has offered words of hope to stroke victims after making a return to the classroom.

Kirsty McClelland was struck down by a brain stem stroke in January and was off work for more than four months.

But on June 1 the popular deputy head walked through the doors on two crutches to start work again part-time.

It was an emotional occasion for the 48-year-old who feared at one stage she would never walk again.

“The kids were excited to see me back,” said Gatehouse mum Kirsty.

“When I went back in you could hear the buzz around the school.

“One child waved to me through the door – it was really nice.

“The staff were delighted too – they kept in touch with me the whole way through asking how I was getting on.

“It’s just lovely to be back.”

Kirsty, who is married to farm worker husband Johnny, was taken seriously ill on Friday, January 23 with symptoms starting in school.

“I did not feel right at all,” said Kirsty. “I couldn’t put my finger on it but I went straight to bed when I got home.

“Through the night I felt nauseous and was very sick in the bathroom.

“My balance and vision were all over the place and I fell flat on my face through the bedroom door.

“All I could do was laugh – it was so strange.

“But next day Johnny said: ‘Right, I’m taking you to
out-of-hours at Dumfries’.”

Initially Kirsty’s symptoms of dizziness and double vision were not thought to be too serious.

But Johnny, a stockman on a local farm, asked that his wife be kept in.

“The person who saw me thought it was an ear infection,” Kirsty said.

“They wanted to discharge me but Johnny was not for taking me home and eventually they found a space for me in ICU.

“I had CAT and MRI scans and blood tests then I was told I’d had a stroke.

“I was in tears – I did not know what to think. To me a stroke is something that happens to older folk.”

Brain stem strokes can be dangerous and often impact vital bodily functions such as breathing, swallowing, eye movement and balancing when upright.

“There are times I go to swallow and I choke,” Kirsty said.

“And my balance is still atrocious – even in the house I have to use my crutches.

“My eyesight was really bad but that’s sorted itself out now.

“Everybody at the hospital was fantastic.

“They would take time to speak to you to make sure you understood what was going on.”

Kirsty, who still needs two crutches but is able to drive her automatic car, offered words of encouragement to other stroke victims.

She said: “There were times when I thought ‘Is this going to get any better?’

“At one point I did not know if I would ever walk again.

“You have to take time to look after yourself and go with what your body is trying to tell you.

“You can’t rush back to work.

“As long as you have friends and family around you that helps too. With a positive attitude and the right mindset you will walk again.”

Kirsty added: “I’m back in school part time.

“The council are really good in phasing my return so I can gently get back in the way of working again.”