I am a survivor of two strokes, both at the age of 45. On the morning of my first stoke, I woke with a tremendously strong pain in a small area on the left side of my head. I am no stranger to migraines but it was stronger than a migraine yet in such a small area.
Could you access hospital?
I told myself it would pass and I could go to work as usual. Time passed and by now I was tripping over, my eye weeping and I was struggling to get my words out as I phoned my doctors for help. Help was not as hoped, the response being 'there is a cancellation if you come now!' I have no idea how I managed this, where I left the car or its keys!
What was your experience of treatment and/or rehabilitation?
On arrival help was fast and efficient, realising immediately it was a stroke, hospital staff were waiting for me to begin scans etc.
What expectations did you have for your treatment, rehabilitation, recovery?
I was left with right sided paralysis,loss of speech, weaker hearing and sight on my right side, my right arm and leg were twisted in and my face dropped, I also was left with cognitive difficulties and huge problems with fatigue, which even now six years on is still the case.
I have fortunately always been an optimistic and determined person, so despite eventually leaving hospital in a wheelchair with the departing message, 'this is as good as it is going to get,' I was not prepared at 45 to live the rest of my life totally dependent on others,
At that stage I had no idea what if anything I could do about it but I had to and would do something.
What has helped you in your recovery?
I worked using visualisation, trying absolutely anything as I simply had nothing to lose. Eventually little by little, I began to make very small but some improvements. I did not ever let go of my positive mental attitude even in the very low times, and there were many.
This drove me to write my book, ‘Two Strokes Not Out’ to help fellow survivors through these difficult and lonely times and also their families who have also been thrown into this devastating mess without warning. The child forced to become carer, yet at school they return to child role. The book's intention is to be a companion and personal reference guide to the survivor and a support to their families. It is a long and lonely road.
How did your family and friends feel and respond?
Stroke changed our lives as a family forever, overnight, taking away my mobility, independence and ability to work. It left me having to rely on others to eat, wash and dress simply to do everything for me for a great deal of time,
My most recent and exciting task will be revealed on World Stroke Day, Take a look on my website and Sign Against Stroke website www.signagainststroke.com
Wishing all survivors a good recovery, from someone who understands,
A Fellow Survivor and Mentor, Sas