Bexhill family hoping for extra special Christmas after son, 3, suffers stroke

Rocco with his sister Valentine-Rose. Picture: Stroke Association
Rocco with his sister Valentine-Rose. Picture: Stroke Association

The family of a Bexhill boy who suffered a stroke at the age of three said they are working hard to make this Christmas extra special for him.

Rocco Hole collapsed at nursery on his first day back after the Christmas holiday two years ago.

Rocco Hole. Picture: Stroke Association

Rocco Hole. Picture: Stroke Association

He displayed some of the classic symptoms of stroke but doctors initially diagnosed it as an inner ear infection.

It took more than a week before his anxious family were finally told that he had had a stroke.

Mum Katie Stanley said: “Rocco’s dad Lewis dropped him at nursery. He fell over on the way in but Lewis just thought it was he had fallen over as young children do.

“Then when he was in nursery he was being read a story and he was falling to one side. His face fell and he lost consciousness for a while.

“The nursery were really good and called us straight away. Because of his age no-one even considered that he was having a stroke.

“We took him to hospital and they said he had a middle ear infection and told us to just go home. They gave him antibiotics.

“He was just being so odd. We were asking him questions and he just kept saying ‘I don’t know’, ‘I don’t know’. Rocco struggled to remember his favourite toy and when his grandad came round and I asked ‘who’s that?’ Rocco said ‘I don’t know’.

“He was talking and it was just like gobbledygook. I didn’t know it was a stroke; I just knew it was something terrible.

“We took him back to hospital and we were begging the doctors to take it more seriously.

Katie and Lewis took Rocco to hospital where they were told he had a middle ear infection.

After struggling to remember his favourite toy or recognise his grandad, Katie took him back to hospital.

She added: “Rocco endured multiple tests every day including the CT scan, blood test, cannula changes most days, which was a constant struggle and sometimes five people were involved in helping to restrain him to get the blood test.

“He was kept in hospital and he was getting better and better each day.

“When he finally had an MRI can after five days we thought we’d get the results and be sent home. It took another two days for someone who was qualified to read the scan.

“They said ‘We’re really sorry but he’s had a huge stroke’. It felt like a bomb had dropped into our lives.

“He was then transferred to the London Evelina Children’s hospital. He received physio at hospital and speech and language therapy locally. He has had stomach scans, kidney scans, and three more MRI scans under general anaesthetic. They have never found out what caused his stroke.

“Rocco became very anxious about hospitals and doctor’s appointments and it took two months to gradually get back into going to nursery.

“He’s had so many appointments that any time we even drive near the hospital he just starts saying “No! No! No!”

Katie said Rocco is now ‘90 per cent better and happy’. She added: “He suffers with memory problems and word finding difficulties and started school at King Offa Primary Academy in September where he is monitored for how he is progressing.

“He is under the care of the amazing doctors at the Evelina Children’s Hospital and we have had support from the Childhood Stroke Project to try and process and get through this tough time.

“I would say he’s 90 per cent better now and he’s happy. He sometimes forgets things half way through a sentence. He gets really tired at school but school don’t think he’s behind in any way.

“I don’t want him to do anything that could harm his head. I’m just super protective.

“Because it was close to Christmas we’re always reminded of Rocco’s stroke when Christmas comes round. It was his first day back at nursery after the Christmas holiday. We try to make Christmas special and plan nice things to make happier Christmas memories for Rocco and his sisters.

“Angels must be watching over us that day as Rocco has fought to overcome this like a total hero. We feel so lucky so have him here with us every day and now we want to support others going through this.”

Katie’s sister Chloe will be running the London Marathon to raise funds for the Stroke Association. Anyone who would like to donate can do so on her Just Giving page www.justgiving.com/fundraising/katie-stanley2118