A brave Magherafelt woman who has beaten both locked-in syndrome and the stroke that brought it on, has shared just how hard it was for her to learn to speak again.
Clodagh Dunlop, who worked as a police officer before her life-changing illness, suffered a massive stroke last April that left her unable to communicate with anyone.
Since then the 36-year-old has battled to regain her ability to speak - one of the most difficult parts of her journey she said.
“I hope to raise awareness,” she told the Mail. “Stroke has other impact factors other than just the obvious physical difficulties that the public can see.
“A speech difficulty does not mean someone cannot be communicated with, and people shouldn’t presume that having difficulty in speaking means a mental impairment.
“Hopefully the video will show that with hard work along with speech therapy a recovery can be achievable even if it is slow, and anyone in a similar situation shouldn’t give up.
“One of the most difficult parts of my journey was being robbed of my ability to communicate by talking,” she went on. “Imagine wanting to tell people you’re too hot, you’ve an itchy nose, that your back is sore but you can’t move.
“You can’t speak and you’re being asked ‘what is wrong?’ How do you answer?
“I’ve gone from using my eyes, developing a system of blinks with Adrian, to spelling out everything I wanted to say on an eye gaze board, to trying to spit out words, hoping I’d be understood.”
The results are amazing from when she struggled to even recite the words of Humpty Dumpty, until now, when Clodagh can speak in full sentences again.
And the inspirational lady said she has recently had more good news, as the muscles in both sides of her mouth are working.
She just needs to work on strengthening them now.
“Last week I attended the Children’s Hospital at the RVH, Belfast. I underwent a nasaloscopy,” Clodagh said on her Facebook page.
“This allowed a plastic surgeon and speech therapist to see what my mouth muscles were doing when I spoke. It was good news, the left side of my soft palate is working, whilst the right side is working but still weak.
“The doctor has prescribed more talking to strengthen the right! I’ve decided to share a video of me learning to talk as it shows just how far I’ve come, it also shows the wonderful work speech therapists do with stroke patients and just how patient everyone I encountered was. #beatinglockedin”