KATIE MANSFIELD meets an inspirational woman who has battled back after brain surgery.
WHEN Luisa Pead came round from lifesaving brain surgery, she was horrified to discover she could no longer walk or talk.
But Luisa, 39, showed amazing determination and bravery by vowing to fight back after enduring a 12-hour operation to remove the benign brain tumour.
But the aftermath was devastating.
Not only did Luisa have to gain mobility, she also had to learn how to talk again.
Luisa, of The Gallops, Basildon, was diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma in January 2012.
After suffering from tinnitus and vertigo for six months, medical tests revealed a large benign tumour.
Luisa said: “I was pleased it was benign, but they then found after an MRI the tumour was the size of a walnut and was rammed into my brain stem.
“They said because of the size of it, it could be fatal and I would need to have surgery within six months.”
Luisa and partner Wayne Stallard, 45, were shocked to have to deal with another illness, just months after Wayne had been placed in remission following a four-year battle with cancer.
Luisa, who works with special needs children at Essex County Council, was told she would need six weeks off work after surgery.
She said: “It was a 12-hour operation and it must have been awful for my family. It was scary coming round. My surgeon told me I could have eye problems, facial palsy, deafness and my balance could be off.
“He warned me I wouldn’t be in a great way.”
He was right. The operation left Luisa unable to walk, talk and profoundly deaf.
She said: “I lost all my coordination in my right side and I had to learn to walk again with a frame.
“It was a really difficult time. I couldn’t even lift a kettle with my right arm, I had no strength.
“I came round in hospital and I remember talking and I think I realised the sound of my voice didn’t sound like me, it was really strange.
“It took me a lot of time to fully realise how much I had changed.”
Now, two years on, Luisa has learned to walk and talk again and can hear thanks to a set of hearing aids.
She is back at work parttime and plans to marry Wayne, her partner of 15 years, in September.
The bride-to-be became a regular at the Body Shop in Eastgate Shopping Centre after the operation left her with eye problems meaning she can only wear certain make-up.
She helped reopen the store in July, after staff became inspired by her story.
She said: “To others, please listen to what your doctors tell you about what is going to happen and be prepared.
“I wasn’t ready. I thought it would be straightforward.
“I did not have the normal reactions you expect.
“Something that stuck with me is what a Macmillan counsellor said to us when Wayne was ill – there are going to be days with chemo when you don’t feel great, but there are going to be others where you have to get on.”