A RENFREW woman who lives the high life as a flight attendant has told how she battled back to health after suffering a stroke.

Sharon Williams thought she had been grounded for life when the stroke, caused by a blood clot in her neck, hit two years ago, at the height of her career with Loganair.

She said the frightening experience left her an emotional wreck but the support of her doctors, family and friends put her on a flight path to recovery.

Now 51-year-old Sharon is offering hope to others affected by stroke by volunteering for a new helpline run by the Stroke Association.

The ‘Here for You’ telephone service connects stroke survivors and families with trained volunteers to help combat feelings of isolation.

Sharon told The Gazette: “I decided to volunteer because I want to give something back to people who have been through a stroke and are dealing with its devastating effects.”

It was on the night of June 28, 2018, that Sharon woke up with a blinding headache which she and her partner Craig McCallum initially thought was a migraine.

“The pain was like a firecracker,” said Sharon. “I thought my head was going to burst.

“I was staggering like a drunk woman and kept falling to my side.”

Realising something was badly wrong, Sharon’s parents, Jean and Clem, took her by car to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, in Glasgow, where she underwent tests.

However, it was several days before a stroke was diagnosed as the problem.

Sharon said: “When the doctor told me, I couldn’t believe it. I said ‘I’m too young and fit to have had a stroke.’

“I thought my world had collapsed. I was afraid to go to sleep, thinking I might die.”

However, after treatment in hospital and months of outpatient appointments, Sharon made a good recovery and got the the thumbs-up from doctors for a phased return to work, which initially involved office duties and then some short flights.

After occasional spells in furlough, she was delighted to be told she would able to take to the skies again this month.

Sharon hopes that, by sharing her experience of stroke, she is able to support others.

“Since volunteering, I’ve found that just asking people how they are, and if they have had a good week, can really open a conversation up,” she said.

“I’ve had some really rich discussions about the effects of a stroke, its impact and how rehab and recovery is going.

“We talk about old hobbies and new hobbies, family members – whatever the person I’m supporting feels like talking about really.”

To sign up to the Here For You service, call 0303 303 3100.

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