Chat room instant diagnosis saves life of stroke victim

Numb limbs, erratic typing, bad spelling

A British engineer owes his life to bad typing.

John Fowles, 59, was chatting online to his girlfriend when he began to lose feeling on the left hand side of his body. His typing became erratic, his limbs went numb.

Four thousand miles away, girlfriend Susan Harrigan, of New Jersey, noticed his chat-room posting was littered with spelling mistakes. Usually, his typing was perfect. She asked him what was wrong: he told her his arms hurt. She diagnosed a stroke - and ordered him to see a doctor.

John, of Sherbourne, Dorset, immediately called an emergency surgery and ended up in hospital where an MRI scan confirmed Susan's diagnosis. Marvellous. John was pretty lucky in his choice of girlfriend - Susan works in a stroke rehab unit.

"When he came into the chat room that night he just seemed different," she told the Daily Express. "I could just tell something was wrong. I asked him if everything was OK and he said no. I could see from his typing - it was erratic. It is hard to explain."

This story has an even happier ending: the two transatlantic lovebirds who first made contact through the official Web site of Canadian singer Gordon Lightfoot, are now to be married. And they want Gordon Lightfoot to be the best man. ®

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