December 10, 2023
Life after stroke is a new mountain to climb for Mount Everest legend Dawson Stelfox
Dawson Stelfox had an unexpected, life-changing stroke at the age of just 64 in December last year (Image: NICHS) It's 30 years since Dawson Stelfox became the first person from Northern Ireland to reach the summit of Mount Everest way back in 1993. This December also marks one year since Dawson, from Lambeg , had an unexpected, life-changing stroke at the age of just 64. While the dad-of-two may seem an unlikely candidate for experiencing ill health, Dawson’s story highlights how a stroke can happen to anyone, at any time, no matter their age, how fit they might be or how healthy a life they might lead. READ MORE: NI survivors on how a life-changing stroke can happen to anyone and at any age READ MORE: NI mum says life-changing stroke at 42 'was really random and a huge shock' Dawson says he has always been generally pretty fit and healthy as a regular hill walker and rock climber and had even been out in the Mournes two days before the first symptoms of his stroke started. He explained: “I woke up one morning at 5am and I was totally numb down my left-hand side. I immediately thought I was experiencing a TIA, often known as a ‘mini stroke’, and my wife took me to the Royal Victoria Hospital. “We were probably at the hospital within 40 minutes of my symptoms beginning but by that time the feeling of numbness was starting to wear off. When the medical team examined me, they immediately picked up that I had very high blood pressure. “I was completely unaware of that as I wasn't feeling any particular symptoms of high blood pressure and I hadn’t been checking it. I had a CT scan, was prescribed medication to reduce my blood pressure and thin my blood and was sent home.” In 1993 Dawson was the first person from Northern Ireland to reach the summit of Mount Everest (Image: NICHS) Dawson experienced a series of similar incidents over the next few days, however. “The same thing happened the next day, so I went back to the hospital but, again, by the time I was having an MRI scan the numbness symptoms were going. Again, I was checked out and sent home,” he added. ”The third time it happened I was kept in hospital overnight and again the symptoms seemed to diminish, and I was sent home. The fourth time it happened however the symptoms did not diminish or go away. “Once again, I experienced numbness throughout my left-hand side at five o'clock in the morning. I went to the Royal Victoria Hospital and the feeling didn't go away- I was completely numb and immobile down that side of my body. ”The medical team did various scans and tests and they diagnosed Capsular Warning Syndrome. What I was experiencing wasn’t a clot or bleed as such, it was a spasm in a blood vessel in my brain. ”It was going into spasm because of the high blood pressure, causing the feeling of numbness, but then it was releasing which is why the symptoms were going away at times. Eventually the blood vessel went into a spasm that blocked it completely which stopped the blood supply to my brain.” Read More Related Articles Portadown man on how his local stroke group has been a lifeline on his journey to recovery Read More Related Articles Co Derry stroke survivor's journey from being unable to walk or talk to helping others Unfortunately, Dawson’s stroke resulted in part of his brain being deprived of oxygen and subsequently dying: “It affected my whole left-hand side- my left leg, left arm, a little in my face. I never lost my speech completely, but it was a bit slurred and even now when I'm tired my face muscles weaken. ”Broadly speaking my speech and memory weren’t affected but physically I was pretty much immobile down my left side.” Dawson spent one month in the Royal Victoria Hospital's stroke ward and has been gradually recovering since being discharged in February. He had physiotherapy and occupational therapy through the Community Stroke Team at the Lagan Valley Hospital, and it was they who pointed him in the direction of Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke (NICHS) for further support. He added: “I attended two sets of NICHS’s Post Rehab Exercise Programme (PREP) which involves a combination of education and physio-developed exercises. PREP was great for me, it was very useful. It definitely helped move me on in terms of having a discipline of pushing myself physically and that combined with the physio and OT, and the exercise I was doing myself really helped. “What is good and different about PREP is that you are measuring yourself against time on the activities. If you have any sort of competitive spirit, like I do, you are always trying to do a bit better than the previous week. It’s not about competing with other people in the group, it’s about challenging yourself and what you can do. “There is a sort of parallel to climbing and mountaineering activities in the sense that with these, you are not in competition with the other people that you are climbing with, you are in competition with the environment that you are in. That's a bit like PREP because everybody is at different stages, everybody has their own particular abilities and disabilities, and it’s all about your own individual journey. “Also, when you are climbing with somebody there can be times you might need their support and encouragement if you are finding things tough. That is similar to PREP in that there is great comradery at the groups, with everyone encouraging and supporting each other. There is collaboration and teamwork, like in mountaineering.” Dawson rock climbing in the Mournes before his stroke (Image: NICHS) This Christmas , local health charity Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke (NICHS) is appealing to the public to help them give the gift of hope to the thousands of local people who are affected by chest, heart and stroke illnesses every year. NICHS gives hope to those who need it through a range of services including their life-changing care services, educational school programmes, and Family Support services. Like many stroke survivors, Dawson found the effects of his stroke turned his world upside down and was a huge shock to his system after always being so active. He said: “The sudden loss of capacity takes a lot of getting used to. I have a strong, determined mindset however and that definitely helps. You just have to keep going, doing the exercises, relearning your movements etc- it is all about repetition. “You must do as much as you can and chalk up every little success along the way. It is a long, slow process but the good thing is you do see progress. It might be slow progress, but you can chart it and measure the differences of what you are able to do, week on week, month by month. “Now, I am still working with the Community Stroke Team, and I go to the gym and I’m gradually recovering. I haven’t quite fully recovered on the left side, but I can walk reasonable distances quite slowly- the furthest I have walked is four miles. “I have been out walking on some roughish tracks and I’ve actually been rock climbing again on an indoor wall. I’m gradually getting my strength and coordination back- I still have quite a way to go but I’m determined to get there.” Andy Bell pictured with fellow NICHS Care Services Co-ordinators (Image: NICHS) Andy Bell, an NICHS Care Services Co-ordinator who runs the PREP group Dawson attended, added: “When I saw Dawson’s name come through as a referral I was really shocked. I knew Dawson from years ago when I was in school and he accompanied our Mountaineering Club on a trip to Norway. I knew how much of an active and fit person Dawson has always been and I just could not believe he had had a stroke. “Dawson was very determined and ambitious when he started PREP. He said he wanted to get back to hiking and climbing and pushing himself as far as possible. That was a great attitude to have. I encouraged Dawson to harness that, and it really helped him on his recovery journey. “Dawson made great progress over the 12 weeks he attended PREP, and he recently showed me a video of him back climbing again which I was delighted to see.” Andy continued: “PREP is a community-based course to give stroke survivors the time and a place to come to re-build their physical and emotional strength following their stroke. Personally, it is very rewarding to see the participants’, like Dawson, progression from joining the group in week one to when they complete the programme in week six or twelve. They are so motivated and have come so far. “When you talk about Dawson and his previous hiking and climbing expeditions people would never think he would be at risk of having a stroke, but it can happen to anyone, at any age. I am really pleased I have been able to play a part in Dawson’s recovery journey and wish him all the best as he continues with this.” Join our Belfast Live BREAKING news service on WhatsApp Click this link or scan the QR code to receive breaking news and top stories from Belfast Live. We also treat our community members to special offers, promotions, and adverts from us and our partners. If you don’t like our community, you can check out any time you like. If you’re curious, you can read our Privacy Notice . Someone who shares a determined and ambitious nature with Dawson is Jackie Trainor, Director of Income Generation at NICHS. Jackie is currently preparing to take on the gruelling challenge of trekking to Everest Base Camp with her husband Conor, all in aid of raising much-needed funds for the charity. Jackie explained: “I have done a lot of things that have been outside my comfort zone such as parachute jumps and working in areas of extreme poverty but for this challenge I really wanted to do something that would push me to my limits, physically and mentally. "Two of the things I hate most are being cold and spiders- trekking in -15°C for 17 days, for up to nine hours a day, coupled with Himalayan Jumping Spiders really will be the challenge of a lifetime for me! “I’ve got a determined mindset and do love to push myself however so that plus the fact I am raising funds that will genuinely help local people here will spur me on through the hard times. “The money raised from my trek will help deliver programmes like the PREP group Dawson attended, as well as support the expansion of our cardiac support services in line with our new strategy to help people across NI impacted by heart illness” If you have been affected by a chest, heart or stroke condition and need support visit nichs.org.uk/care-and-support for further information. You can support Jackie’s fundraising effort here . For all the latest news, visit the Belfast Live homepage here and sign up to our daily newsletter here Story Saved You can find this story in My Bookmarks. Or by navigating to the user icon in the top right. Follow BelfastLive Facebook Twitter Comment More On Real Life Royal Victoria Hospital Lisburn IYA Alert County
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Star Wars Director Says It's About Time A Woman Makes A Star Wars Movie
Jan 02, 2024
Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Sharmeed Obaid-Chinoy is directing an upcoming Star Wars movie that brings back Daisy Ridley in the role of Rey. Obaid-Chinoy will become the first woman to direct a Star Wars film, dating back to the franchise's origins in the 1970s. Speaking about this, Obaid-Chinoy told CNN that she is "very thrilled" to make the movie and create something that is "very special.""We're in 2024 now, and I think it's about time we had a woman come forward to shape the story in a galaxy far, far away," she said.Obaid-Chinoy won Best Documentary, Short Subjects Academy Awards for Saving Face (2012) and A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness (2015).In 2020, Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy told the BBC that a woman would eventually direct a Star Wars movie, saying that would "absolutely" happen, "without question." Victoria Mahoney was a second unit director on The Rise of Skywalker, but a woman has never claimed a top directing credit on a Star Wars movie.On the TV side of things, The Mandalorian has featured a number of female directors, including Deborah Chow and Bryce Dallas Howard. Chow went on to direct the Obi-Wan TV series, too.Another high-profile franchise that has never had a female director is James Bond. Producer Barbara Broccoli and Skyfall director Sam Mendes have both said they want to see a woman direct a future 007 film.As for Obaid-Chinoy's Star Wars movie, little is known about it apart from the fact that Ridley will come back to play Rey. It is expected that this film will be the first of the three new Star Wars films to come to theaters, possibly releasing in December 2025.According to a report, Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight is writing the Rey movie, taking over for Damon Lindelof and Justin Britt-Gibson.
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NBA Names Clare Akamanzi CEO Of NBA Africa
Jan 02, 2024 15:29
The NBA named Clare Akamanzi – an accomplished business executive and international trade and investment lawyer – as CEO of NBA Africa. Akamanzi will start her position on Jan. 23, 2024, and report to NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum. In this role, Akamanzi will oversee the NBA’s business and basketball development efforts in Africa and will be responsible for continuing to grow the popularity of basketball, the NBA and the Basketball Africa League (BAL) across the continent, including through grassroots basketball development, media distribution, corporate partnerships, and social responsibility initiatives that improve the livelihoods of African youth and families. For the last six and a half years, Akamanzi was CEO of Rwanda Development Board (RDB), where she spearheaded Rwanda’s economic development by enabling private sector growth. Under Akamanzi’s leadership, RDB implemented several business policy reforms and initiatives that led to significant investment and development for the country, including through partnerships with the BAL, Arsenal FC, Paris Saint-Germain FC, FC Bayern Munich and TIME Magazine, among others. “Clare’s business acumen, international experience and familiarity with basketball and the NBA make her the ideal executive to lead our business in Africa,” says Tatum. “NBA Africa and the Basketball Africa League are well-positioned for continued growth, and under Clare’s leadership we believe these initiatives will transform economies, communities and lives across the continent.” “I’ve seen firsthand how sports can positively impact businesses, families and communities in Africa, and the NBA and the BAL are a perfect example of that,” says Akamanzi. “The NBA has done an incredible job growing basketball and the economy around it across the continent, and I’m excited about the enormous opportunities ahead to build on that momentum.” Previously, Akamanzi was Chief Operating Officer of RDB and Head of Strategy and Policy Unit, Office of the President of the Republic of Rwanda. She has extensive international trade, business and diplomatic experience, having previously worked for the Rwandan Government at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland and at the Rwandan Embassy in London, England. Akamanzi has worked or studied in seven different countries and holds an honorary LLD from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, in recognition of her work in Rwanda. She earned a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she was the recipient of three prestigious awards for academic excellence and distinguished contribution to the community: the Lucius N. Littauer Fellows Award, the Raymond & Josephine Vernon Award and the Robert Kennedy Public Service Award. In addition, Akamanzi holds a Master of Laws degree in international trade and investments from the University of Pretoria in South Africa, and a Bachelor of Laws degree from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. Akamanzi has served on several company boards, including the World Health Organization (WHO) Foundation, ECOBANK and Aviation, Travel and Logistics (ATL) company. She was recognized by Forbes as one of Africa’s Top 50 Powerful Women in 2020.
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