A FITNESS instructor today told how he has battled back from suffering a major stroke at the age of 31.
Former semi-professional footballer John Lydon thought strokes only happened to older people or those living an unhealthy lifestyle.
The personal trainer was used to staying in shape, feeling good and not worrying about his health.
But on July 24 last year, his life changed for ever.
John, who used to play for Washington FC, said: “I was at work, doing a 12-hour shift, and had had a headache the night before.
“I then couldn’t see out of my left eye, my face dropped on the left side and my left arm and leg went numb, and I collapsed.”
Scans showed he had suffered a stroke, probably caused by a hole in the heart, known as patent foramen ovale.
The hole between the right and left side of the heart should close after birth, but in as many as one in four people, it remains open.
It usually does not cause any problems, but a blood clot could travel from one side to the other, potentially causing a stroke.
Dad to Jack, four, and Sophie, one, John faced the long journey to recovery, having to undergo intensive physiotherapy.
He said: “The impact on my life was massive. The stroke happened just seven days before Sophie’s first birthday. I was very emotional and really came to realise how important family was, what mattered in life and who my friends were.
“It’s been tough, with lots of ups and downs. I’m still recovering, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel.”
John, of Oxclose, has been used to having stroke patients referred to him.
He is keen to raise awareness of their impact and is working with the Stroke Association, writing a blog he hopes will inspire and support others.
John, along with Anthony Green and Michael Williamson, set up New You Training in Washington three years ago.
The colleagues have been supporting him in his recovery, and to mark the opening of their premises, classes between July 8 and July 14 will be half price, and money raised will go towards the charity.
For information about strokes, contact the association on 0303 30 33 100, or visit stroke.org.uk.