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19 April 2012, 10:32
A North Essex mum who suffered four cardiac arrests and a major stroke whilst giving birth to twins has been telling Heart about her recovery.
33-year-old George Cormack's ordeal started immediately after giving birth to the first of her twins at Colchester Hospital ten months ago.
She suddenly felt dizzy and sick and her heart stopped. It then took two hours for the medical team to save her and her babies a time during which George suffered three further cardiac arrests and a major stroke. Her body was haemorrhaging and there were worries about a lack of oxygen to her brain.
Her second baby, starved of her mother's oxygen, was not breathing when she was delivered but was brought back to life. George was put into an induced coma for two days, followed by a spell in intensive care before being transferred to the stroke unit where her long rehabilitation began.
It was here she first met Alison Wren, specialist speech and language therapist - the person George says has given her the key to live again.
Even now, ten months on, George, of Great Tey, has a patchy memory of those first couple of weeks, but says she will be eternally grateful for the care she had at the time and since as she has battled bravely back to a position where she can now enjoy going out with her twins, Oscar and Connie, see friends and enjoy the simple pleasures of live most people take for granted - such as asking for something in a shop or reading a menu in a restaurant.
She's been telling Heart: "It's been traumatic and I've been through every emotion imaginable these past ten months but, more than anything else, I feel lucky.
"I now know that what I had was an amniotic fluid embolism, a very rare occurrence during childbirth. Because it is so rare, nobody really knew how much better I might get. There I was, when I should have been celebrating the happiest event of my life, at a loss to know who I was, where I was, what I was doing there and unable to understand all these strange noises people around me were making.
"I had what is known as a bilateral stroke. Physically, I was unaffected but the biggest damage to my brain was the area which controls your speech and language. Other parts of my brain had peppered damage.
"For two weeks I had 24-hour security as there was no telling what I might do. Nothing really made sense to me so I was probably a bit of a danger to myself.
"All I know is that without the help of a lot of people, I wouldn't be telling this story now: the consultant who saved my life, and my daughters, whilst working with the crash team, the theatre staff, the midwives, the special care baby unit staff - Connie and Oscar were in special care for nine days - the critical care unit who nursed me back to consciousness, the stroke unit and the neuro rehab teams."
George's road to recovery was to be a long and demanding one - she describes it as like waking up very slowly - but her determination to get back the life she had before her stroke spurred her on.
Her main therapist, Alison, worked with her day after day, starting with the basics like learning the alphabet and object recognition. Alison was staggered by George's will to learn.
"I would set George a week's worth of therapy and she would have it done in a day. I've never known anyone so determined. I found it inspirational. It was one of the most severe strokes I have come across and for her to come back from that position to where she is today is quite amazing," said Alison.