21 December 2021

Anniversary cycle ride for neurological teams

Good luck to Steve Curran as he takes on a 100 mile cycle ride around Hampshire to mark the anniversary of an haemorrhagic stroke and being told he may never walk again.

The 39 year old from Poole tells us what happened last year on 22 December:

“The day began like any other. I was in the shower when I felt a sudden pop inside my head, followed by intense pressure and an excruciating headache. I looked at my watch. 8.58am.

In that split second, my life changed forever.

I turned off the shower and got out, slipping slightly. I shrugged it off and figured I must have just slipped on the wet floor. As I grabbed a towel I thought “I don’t feel good at all”.

I started towards the bedroom, but with each step my feet met the floor with less surety until both my legs gave way and I collapsed, unable to move.

I looked at my watch. 9.00am. In just two minutes I had gone from feeling absolutely fine, to being paralysed from the waist down.

I called for my wife, Tiffany, who immediately called for an ambulance.

Following a quick assessment, the ambulance rushed me immediately to the Wessex Neurological Centre at University Hospital Southampton (UHS).

After several scans and diagnostic tests, it was confirmed I’d had a haemorrhagic stroke, the result of an ArterioVenous Malformation (AVM).

An AVM is an abnormal tangle of blood vessels connecting arteries and veins in the brain which disrupts normal blood flow and oxygen circulation. The vessel walls had become weak and ruptured, causing bleeding into the brain, a stroke, and brain damage.

In my case, the AVM was in the portion of the brain which controlled the motor and sensory function of my right side.”

For the next few days Steven was monitored to ensure the brain bleed remained stable. He was discharged on Christmas Eve and scheduled to undergo brain surgery on 5 January to remove the damaged malformation.

“I had regained full movement of my left leg but remained unable to move my right leg from the knee down. I was given a series of exercises and advised to start at 20 and work my way up. I persisted with my rehabilitation and achieved three sets of 100 reps and balanced for 30 seconds on my right leg the day before surgery.

Going back to UHS for surgery, I was told that the AVM spanned the length of the main artery supplying oxygen to a large region of the brain. The surgeon wanted to remove the entire vessel meaning I would lose all movement and feeling down my right side.

I was shocked. My life revolves around being active, and I spent the next hour preparing for the life-changing procedure.

I woke up 10.5 hours later in recovery and to see my surgeon smiling as he told me he was able to remove the AVM without sacrificing the main artery.”

The surgeon went on to perform the initial post-surgical neuro tests and detected traces of movement in Steven’s right foot.

“It only moved like a millimeter,” Steven gleefully recalls, “but I was elated and at that moment told myself that I will recover and one day ride my bike again.

I was discharged 18 hours later and begun my rehab journey.

The first morning home I walked down the stairs without help. I went for a half mile walk two days later, and three days after surgery noticed that I could raise my calf.

On the eighth day post-surgery, I awoke to the sense of movement in my toes and knew it was the day.  “If I can flex my toes then I can clip into my pedals,” he recalls. “That was the first of many sessions on my static bike!

Approximately 10 weeks after surgery, incredibly I had full range of movement in my right leg, foot, and toes.

Giving back…

I owe my life to the skill of the doctors and nurses in The Wessex Neurological Centre so I decided a few days after surgery that on the one year anniversary, I would cycle 100 miles to the doors of the hospital and back home to raise money for Southampton Hospitals Charity.

I will leave home at 8.58am on 22 December, exactly one year after my stroke to signify my recovery.

So far I’ve raised over £4,400 to thank you hospital staff for saving my life.”

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