Brandon man owes his dogs for Thetford Forest rescue

A GRANDFATHER who was left helpless in Thetford Forest after suffering a stroke has made a remarkable recovery - thanks to quickly administered life-saving drugs and a little help from man's best friend.

A GRANDFATHER who was left helpless in Thetford Forest after suffering a stroke has made a remarkable recovery - thanks to quickly administered life-saving drugs and a little help from man's best friend.

Mick Garner was enjoying a walk with his two dogs and that of a friend, when he collapsed into some bracken.

But the golden labrador, black pug and Scottie sensed something was wrong and circled Mr Garner for an hour until two passers-by spotted them.

The emergency services were called and Mr Garner, 66, was airlifted to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, where he was diagnosed with an acute ischaemic stroke, or a blood clot on his brain.

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Despite doctors telling Monica, his wife of 44 years, that he had 48 hours to live, Mr Garner is now able to walk and talk and continues to make a steady recovery with the help of his family and friends.

He said: “I can walk and lift my arm and put my hands round my back but some things are quite difficult, like lifting my hand above a mug, and I have thought to myself 'why can't I do that?', but each day is different.”

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Mr Garner, a father of two daughters and grandfather of four, who lives with his wife in St Nicholas Walk, Brandon, said the stroke, on March 31, paralysed the right side of his body, and left him unable to see or hear on that side. After spending a month at the N&N and a further month at Newmarket Hospital, he returned home but continued with physiotherapy.

Mr Garner is now able to see and hear, walk and talk. He requires constant supervision and receives visits from an occupational therapist and carer but continues to improve daily.

Mrs Garner said it was the speed with which he was found and given thrombolysis, the clot-busting drugs, which helped him make such a remarkable recovery - with the dogs playing a key part in raising the alarm.

“They did not leave him and kept circling,” she said. “I think they have some sort of instinct. I am sure he would have been found eventually but it may have taken a lot longer.”

She added: “We knew nothing about stroke before it happened to Michael and it is absolutely devastating the effect it can have on a person. I think everyone should recognise the signs.

“They were great at the hospital and if you saw him now, he's a walking miracle. He's come on in leaps and bounds.”

When administered within three hours of a stroke, thrombolysis treatment can have a major impact on a person's recovery and reduce the risk of brain damage and disability.

N&N consultant stroke physician Dr Kneale Metcalf said: “The stroke thrombolysis service was first introduced in December 2008 and extended to a 24/7 service in June and Mr Garner's story illustrates just how important it is to get help quickly if someone has had a stroke.

“Many people do not understand what a stroke is and they don't know what the symptoms are.

“We would ask people to learn about the Fast test, encourage people to recognise the symptoms and then take immediate action.”

Fast (face, arm, speech, time) is a simple test to help people to recognise the signs of stroke and understand the importance of fast emergency treatment.

The acronym was created by the Stroke Association and is used to assess three symptoms:

tFacial weakness. Can the person smile? Has their mouth or eye dropped?

tArm weakness. Can they raise both arms?

tSpeech problems. Can you understand what they are trying to say? Are they speaking clearly?

tTime to call 999.

tMr and Mrs Garner are now looking for a suitable activity or group for Mr Garner to regain some independence.

Anyone with any information should contact the couple on 01842 814529.

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