Until she was hit by a stroke, Michelle Wilkinson had so much to look forward to.
The Clitheroe divorcee and mother-of-five was a successful driving instructor, was about to take her test for large motorcycles, soon to see a daughter off to university, had enrolled on a university course herself, was keeping fit and had lost three stones in weight, and had led a 15-strong sponsored swim for Help for Heroes with her soldier daughter, Adele.
Her life was devastated after she had an operation for a brain aneurysm, and the slight risk she he had been warned about became reality with a stroke that left her partially paralysed down her left side and temporarily without speech.
But Michelle (46) is making a determined fight back, and when two friends push her wheelchair in a charity fun run in May she intends to get out and walk the last 100 metres or so to cross the finish line.
She has also gained an internet following for her regular blogs about living with “Mr A.” – A for Aneurysm – in an effort to raise awareness about strokes and help other sufferers and their loved ones.
Michelle’s ordeal began at the end of July last year. She had been suffering bad headaches, which she put down to migraine, and felt tingling in her hands and lips.
Sent by Pendleside Practice for an MRI scan at Royal Blackburn Hospital, Michelle was found to have an aneurysm and was referred to the Royal Preston Hospital.
She was warned there that surgery carried a risk of about 5%, but left untreated the aneurysm had a 70% risk of fatally bursting at any time.
Soon after surgery to insert a titanium coil, Michelle suffered bleeding and a stroke, and was rushed into intensive care.
Confined to hospital for months, Michelle had to give up her home in Milthorne Avenue, Clitheroe, and her two youngest sons had to go into foster care.
Michelle is recuperating in Castleford House, Clitheroe, and looking forward to moving into an adapted house in Lime Street.
“I’m still me, despite it all,” Michelle said.
“I can’t do the things I used to do, but it doesn’t mean I can’t do things in a different way.”
On Saturday, May 11th, Michelle will take part in the annual Beaverbrooks 10K Fun Run along the prom at Blackpool, pushed by friends Iain and Lucie Warburton, of Littlemoor Road, who are borrowing a “running” wheelchair from Simon O’Rourke, of Ribble Valley Shopmobility.
Michelle said: “I’m determined to get out and walk across that finishing line. I’ll try the last 100 yards if I can.”
Michelle and friends hope to raise about £1,000 for the Stroke Association, and raise awareness about how strokes can strike anyone.
l Anyone wanting to sponsor Michelle, can donate at www.justgiving.com/michellesrecovery