By James Somper
A stunning young woman accused of drunkenly slurring after she survived a life-threatening stroke has relearned how to speak – and even bagged her dream man.
Ellis Elliott, 27, had given up on life after she awoke from heart surgery in April 2017 unable to speak, read and eat and partially paralysed.
After being told by doctors she had suffered a stroke on the operating table, Ellis spent the next nine months relearning the basic life skills.
And after months of being terrified that love interests would believe she was drunk on first dates due to her slur, the project manager finally began dating again in January 2018 after she fully re-learned how to speak.
Now Ellis, who has been dating boyfriend Mark Hooper, 28, for a year, is speaking out after regaining her confidence.
Ellis, from Derby, Derbyshire, said: “The stroke was horrendous and relearning how to do things again was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.
“Some guys I told about the stroke didn’t like the thought of it and being with me. It really knocked my confidence.
“I was worried about people thinking my language would get really slurry and that people would think I was drunk. Especially when I meet new people it’s something I need to think about.”
Ellis suffered the stroke while having surgery on a faulty heart valve in April 2017 at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle, and awoke from the operation unable to speak.
A CT scan later revealed that she had suffered a stroke and had aphasia, a language disorder caused by damage to a specific area of the brain that controls speech, reading and writing.
Ellis, a project manager, said: “I woke up and came round from the surgery.
“The nurses were asking me questions but nothing was coming out. It was almost like a baby speaking for the time
“I knew what I wanted to say but couldn’t find the words.
“I just thought it was the anaesthetic at first. But then, my mum came in and I was sitting upright and I tried to smile at her and couldn’t smile properly.
“When I was told I was just in shock, I could see that my mum had been crying and wanted to find the words to say to her it would be OK but I just couldn’t.
“When the doctor said I wouldn’t be able to start speaking fully for two years at least, that was just an awful moment.
“I felt completely helpless and that if this was going to be my life I didn’t want to live at all. It was unbearable and I was in a very dark place for a few weeks.
After nine months of rehabilitation and speech therapy, Ellis was able to regain most of her speech but still sounded slurred and confused.
However, Ellis was still worried about socialising with her communication barrier so decided to tell dates about her accident before meeting them.
But all that changed when she met her current boyfriend Mark in January 2018.
She said: “When we met our first date I was pretty petrified.
“I made sure I told him everything beforehand. I’d had bad experiences before so I was quite nervous.
“We went to the cinema and went for drinks. I felt nervous in making conversation but he was so nice and understanding
“I told him what had gone on and how I got tired easily and that I seemed off it wasn’t because of him. It took a lot to say it out loud and to be open and honest about it.
“If you feel like something has been taken away because of your stroke whether it’s your speaking voice or movement, consistency is key to try and get that back.
“You need to use it as strength to live your life everyday despite the challenge that having a stroke brings even though you don’t feel like yourself.”