During Thursday (11th August)’s hour long episode of Emmerdale, Marlon Dingle is set to take a huge step in his stroke recovery as he took steps down the aisle to marry Rhona Ghoskirk, in a rare moment of happiness for the couple.
Back in March this year, Marlon had a stroke only minutes after he got engaged to Rhona. As Marlon’s family celebrated the couple’s engagement, he collapsed and his life changed in an instant.
Five months on, following extensive rehabilitation and tears from characters and viewers alike, the storyline will culminate in this significant moment for Marlon as he takes his first steps down the aisle to surprise his wife-to-be.
Every stroke survivor’s story and recovery is different. No two strokes or recovery are the same and each stroke survivor has their own story to tell as they rebuild their life.
In this article we look at the story of Dan Needham who is 37, and from North Norfolk had two strokes in the space of a week that turned his life upside down. Dan was due to wed fiancée Suzanne.
“This day was always my goal, from the first moment I woke in a hospital bed. We weren’t going to give up on this one day.” Dan’s second stroke left him with damaged vision and struggling to walk.
“I lost my entire left side, lost the right side of my face which slipped, my speech was affected. I went blind again. A clot the size of a pea had caused all these major effects – my life changed in a moment. I was consumed by sheer despair. I’d found the love of my life, I was getting married, I loved my job, I was having my first family home built – that was what was so brutal about what happened. I felt like I was a passenger in my life and no longer in the driving seat,’ Dan said.
Months of tough physiotherapy followed Dan, had an in-house physiotherapist in fiancée Suzanne, and slowly, he learnt how to walk again and after six difficult months, his sight returned but he was left with chronic tiredness and feeling panicked in crowds, making his wedding day with 120 guests a daunting prospect.
“My biggest concern was letting Suzy down on the day. I didn’t even want to walk like I’d had a stroke – I wanted her to be marrying me, not marrying a man who’d had a stroke. I wanted one day to be about us as a couple and nothing else.” But Dan and Suzanne did it. “It was the best day of my life! I stood ten feet tall and watched every step my bride took. Two things I really thought might never be possible again.”
Since their wedding, Dan and Suzanne have taken on a new challenge together that is known as parenthood to their son Henry, now four.
Juliet Bouverie, Chief Executive Stroke Association said: “We are pleased that Emmerdale and Mark Charnock are continuing to take on this challenging storyline and follow Marlon as he recovers from his stroke. As a charity, we are delighted to have been able to offer our advice and support from the beginning of the process. A stroke consultant, stroke survivors, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and teams across the charity have helped the Emmerdale production team with all aspects of the story including the latest wedding storyline and the realistic depiction of Marlon taking his first steps down the aisle. It is important that viewers can see the physical recovery milestones but also the emotional turmoil that many stroke survivors and their carers and family members go through.
“Many viewers are able to identify with Marlon’s storyline – like Dan. We hope that Marlon’s stroke storyline will continue to raise awareness amongst viewers, as he continues to rebuild his life. Stroke changes lives in an instant, but the brain can adapt and stroke survivors can make remarkable recoveries. There is hope and life after stroke, like we are seeing in this story.
“If you think you or someone you know is having a stroke you should Act FAST and call 999 as a stroke is a medical emergency.”
If you need further information or support please visit the Stroke Association website at www.stroke.org.uk
Emmerdale continues weeknights on ITV at 7.30