'I had a stroke at 42' - Long Buckby stroke survivor shares her battle and how she lives to help others
Stroke is often a word associated with older people, but a woman from Long Buckby suffered a life-changing brain attack when she was just 42.
Although Anna Langton, 51, is a stroke survivor, she has been left facing a number of challenges.
It was October 2011 when Anna's life changed forever.
She said: "It was a huge shock to go from a fully able-bodied, autonomous adult, working as a secondary school science technician, to someone who couldn't even drink a cup of tea.
"Everything in the left-side of my body is affected. My arm and leg won't work properly, despite my best efforts. Even my face is affected.
Anna gets tired as a result of the stroke.
"I need my afternoon nap," she said.
"It's hard work processing all the things you could normally do autonomously at a higher level of consciousness. Every step has to be planned, every activity problem solved and risk assessed. "
Anna has had to adjust to life as a retired person, but she leads a full life.
"I use my time to pursue my hobbies and interests," she said.
"My main hobbies are painting and playing euphonium. I learned to play euphonium after stroke, because It only requires the right hand to operate the valves."
Anna is also a volunteer.
"I can't move chairs and tables, but I can communicate, help make decisions and organise things," she said.
She also raises funds for Different Strokes, a charity that supports younger stroke survivors and their families.
Anna said: "Different Strokes has challenged us to get more active and try and raise some funds as well. We choose the challenge and set up a Just Giving page.
"My challenge is to walk 5,000 steps every day in March. For me, it's a real physical challenge, because my walking speed is less than 1mph.
"I've also come across a new unexpected challenge. I'm fairly confident to walk somewhere flat and level, with plenty of visual references. So I've tried something a bit more adventurous, venturing a bit further, only to find, that sometimes, outside is big, open and bit frightening, a bit of an assault on the senses."
Anna said walking downhill can be difficult because her knee isn't strong enough to brake her forward momentum.
She said: "Walking can be thought of as a series of controlled falls. This being so, it's no wonder it's a little scary at times. It's also something that once relearnt, needs to be regularly practiced. There's even a special technique to using a stick."
Anna is passionate about raising stroke awareness.
"I don't particularly want to be the poster person for stroke," she said, "but it's so common and affects so many people and yet there seems little understanding of what it is and how it affects people in the general population. I would like it to receive more media attention, so that that stroke survivors, their family and friends feel less isolated and people in general have a better understanding.
"When I'm out and about, walking slowly with my stick, people sometimes ask me what I've done to my leg. I explain I'm a stroke survivor."
Stroke is the leading cause disability in people of working age and younger. Anna said stroke can leave people with so much more than visible physical disability.
"It's also the invisible mental and emotional disability as well," she added.
Her fundraising target is £500 and she's well on the way.
To find out more or to donate to Anna's fundraiser, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/anna-louise-langton