Footballer, 47, saved by wife who spotted stroke signs on his face

Chris Fountain says he couldn't 'read aloud' after mini-stroke

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Chris Darch, 47, a former Fort William FC manager, was playing a charity match when he was hit on the side of his head. He simply shook off the injury and thought nothing more of it. However, he was hit by a stroke later that night. Fortunately, his wife Sharon was able to identify the key warning signs quickly which saved his life.

Stroke is considered a life-threatening medical emergency that requires an urgent medical treatment.

Luckily, Chris’ wife, who’s a school nurse, was able to spot the condition straight away.

Chris said: “That night I was in the kitchen making my wife a cup of tea and I stumbled.

“I fell back and hit a cupboard, causing all the pots and pans to fall.

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“That alerted my wife Sharon to come through. She’s a school nurse, so she spotted right away that my face had dropped on one side and I was slurring my words.

“I was rushed to intensive care. The next day, I was put into the stroke ward and I stayed there for eight months.”

Symptoms like Chris described are typical of the serious medical emergency.

The NHS explains that during the event, your face, mouth or eye may drop on one side, leaving you unable to smile.

Your speech can also take the hit, becoming slurred or garbled. You might not be able to talk despite being awake and have problems understanding what is being said to you.

While these signs are some of the main red flags pointing to a stroke, your arm mobility could also ring alarm bells.

You might be unable to lift both arms and keep them up because of weakness or numbness in one arm.

The NHS adds that once you experience symptoms like these, you have to dial 999 “immediately” and ask for an ambulance.

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The health service states: “Like all organs, the brain needs the oxygen and nutrients provided by blood to function properly.”

If the supply of blood is restricted or stopped like during a stroke, brain cells begin to die which can lead to brain injury, disability and possibly death. This means that acting quickly during this emergency is crucial.

Chris Darch is now paralysed down his left side and in a wheelchair but he is coaching disability sport.

He said: “I am now paralysed on my left-hand side, so I had a lot of rehabilitation work to do before I could even think of being sent home.

“My main aim was to get out, to get home. That was my goal from the start. The doctors told me I was very lucky to be alive, that I shouldn’t have made it.”

That’s when the care of Gillian Hornby, a Community Services Coordinator for Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland (CHSS), changed his life.

Chris said the connection had been “invaluable” in helping him adjust. He now plays and coaches boccia – a Paralympic sport – with Highland Disability Sports and hopes to return to his recruitment job in some capacity next year.

Chris added: “Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland is now a massive part of my life. It has touched every element of my recovery.

“It’s why I can’t wait to become a volunteer because they show how important it is to help people. I couldn’t think of a better organisation to be involved in.”

Chris is fronting CHSS’s Christmas Appeal and urged people to donate to help people like him.

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