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I don’t know where I’d be without you

Kenny Young, heart attack survivor, stands alongside with Lorraine in a field with winter clothing on.

A relaxed new life in Spain beckoned for Kenny and Lorraine Young when he retired after a career in the police force.

But what should have been a dream for the couple became a nightmare when Kenny suffered a stroke and had to be repatriated to Scotland by air ambulance.

Now, three years on, Kenny and Lorraine are adjusting to their new normal, thanks to help and support from Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland (CHSS).

The stroke affected Kenny’s walking and his balance, but its biggest effect has been on his cognitive function – he struggles with his memory and has aphasia, which affects speech and language.

The support we have had from CHSS has been fantastic

Kenny, 62, says: “I’m in an aphasia support group that has made a real difference to me. I’m confident to speak to others when we share our experiences.”

Kenny, who also suffers from the autoimmune condition lupus, was also one of the first stroke survivors to try out the new pioneering rehabilitation centre at Strathclyde University, developed in conjunction with funding from CHSS.

Lorraine says: “The rehab at Strathclyde was full-on, but Kenny enjoyed it so much. I saw a big difference in his progression in the four weeks that he went there. And it was thanks to CHSS that he got this opportunity.”

All of this could not be further from the future that the couple envisaged when they left Edinburgh in 2016 and moved to Javea, near Alicante. Lorraine set up her own Pilates studio and Kenny offered his services locally as a painter and decorator.

When the unthinkable happens


Everything changed in December 2018 when Lorraine found Kenny collapsed on the bedroom floor. In hospital in Alicante, doctors removed a blood clot from his brain, and he spent four weeks in ICU before being moved to a general ward.

What was supposed to be a dream retirement in Spain for Lorraine and Kenny, turned into a nightmare.

An already traumatic situation was exacerbated by the language barrier and by the fact Kenny did not have health insurance because of his lupus diagnosis. Lorraine describes his care in those weeks in a Spanish hospital as “neglectful”, and she decided they would have to return to Scotland.

In January 2019, Kenny was flown back to Scotland by air ambulance and immediately admitted to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. By the end of March, he was in the stroke rehabilitation ward at the city’s Astley Ainslie Hospital.

You’re not alone


Lorraine recalls: “Physically there wasn’t much wrong with Kenny, but all his issues were cognitive. He had problems with communication, and because he couldn’t swallow, he struggled to speak. He was very depressed. We knew there was a long way to go, but the speech therapy from CHSS helped from the start.”

Kenny, who still suffers from bouts of depression, has been boosted by support from CHSS with Emma Irvine, the Lothians Community Services Coordinator for CHSS, taking the lead. Emma runs the aphasia support group Kenny joined and has also started a regular weekly walk for Kenny to give him exercise options. He says: “I can’t thank Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland enough for what you have done for me. I don’t know where I would be without you.”

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