IN her own words, Great Sankey woman Donna Phelan has been through Hell and back after she had a brain haemorrhage in 2001.
It left her in hospital for eight months and robbed her of the ability to walk, speak and use her writing hand and arm.
But bit by bit the determined mum-of-two has started to recover from her life-altering condition and is now hoping to help many others with the communication problem aphasia with a new support group.
The former florist, who celebrated her 50th birthday last month, said: “The doctors had no idea what had happened to me at first and told my family I had just a five per cent chance of living.
“I think I kept fighting because of my children.
“I was at home alone with my 12-month-old baby when I knew something was wrong and started to feel fuzzy.
“I was a fit and healthy girl, never smoked and there were no symptoms, I just felt this funny feeling.
“My daughter was in the bath so I got her out and ran downstairs and then I collapsed and was on the floor for two hours until my husband came home.
“I was keeping an eye on the baby but when my husband came in I relaxed and went to sleep for 36 hours.”
The haemorrhage occurred the day before Donna was due to start university and meet her lifetime ambition of becoming a nurse.
Since then it has been a long road to recovery for Donna and she admits at times she could not see the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’.
She added: “I’ve laughed, I’ve cried and there’s been terrible times.
“I can only explain it as I have been through Hell and back and there are times it feels like a nightmare.
“It was so frustrating when it first happened as I knew what people were saying but couldn’t answer.
“It’s a condition that makes you feel so isolated and you don’t realise how many people are in the same position.
“Without my speech therapist Alex I wouldn’t be here and I was really lucky to have her support.”
The mum to Lyndsay, aged 27, and Sian, aged 13, had been part of support groups in Liverpool until she moved to Warrington in 2010 and said she was ‘over the moon’ when communication difficulty charity Connect secured Lottery funding to do similar in the town.
She added: “We’re all sufferers so we know what it’s like and there’s people out there who won’t have the confidence to go outside their front door.
“We want them to come join us for a coffee even if it’s for half an hour to meet people going through the same thing and build their confidence.
“I always had this dream of caring for other people and now in a round about way I suppose I am.”
FREE drop-in sessions for people with communication disorder aphasia will be launched on February 3.
Head to the games room at Alford Hall, Manchester Road, from 1 to 4pm, every fortnight.
Friends and family of those with aphasia are also welcome.
E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or visit ukconnect.org.