My reason for preventing stroke? Watching my entire family carry the burden of my stroke

Mike Shapland is 56 years old and has experienced stroke twice here he shares his experience and why we should all think about our stroke risk and do more to prevent stroke.

Before the stroke did you have any idea that you were at any risk of stroke?

Well I had a stroke about 10 years prior to the recent one so although I personally didn’t think it would happen again – I think my wife was worried about my “lifestyle”. I found out recently that my Grandmother on my paternal side died from a stroke and that my Grandfather from my maternal side died of a stroke. I am aware that Strokes are not hereditary.

When and how did you realise that you were having a stroke?

I was at work – it was just after mid-day and one of my staff members asked what was wrong with my face – I also had a headache and “pin-pricks” of light spots flashing in my vision.

Can you tell us a little about your life before stroke?

I had been fairly successful in business being a Director of a listed Company. I regularly paid golf and was an active river fisherman. I was fairly social and mixed easily with people. I was seldom sick. I enjoyed alone time with various hobbies and interests. My family members being a wife Bev, and two daughters Kirsty and Caity, were in my mind a happy “team” who shared easily and openly with each other. They were very protective over each other and slotted easily into society at large. I was probably the most closed emotionally of the family.

How has life changed for you and the people around you since your stroke?

Dramatically – I was stopped from driving, I was boarded (stopped from working), I spent over a year doing rehabilitation and getting psychological help. My co-ordination was lost so I couldn’t play golf, walk easily, fishing was a struggle. Money became very tight, I went through a long stage of depression, my wife Bev was put under enormous strain keeping family and her work commitments alive. I became a loner, I couldn’t deal with noise, Malls, family get togethers, restaurants etc. I lost my pride and confidence and was terribly embarrassed that I’d had a stroke. My vision deteriorated and I live with headaches from what we assume is high blood pressure. I have managed to find part time work – but it is not meaningful.

What steps do you take now to prevent stroke?

I try to avoid stressful situations – my family better understand my people phobia so they do not put pressure on me to go out. I am on blood pressure medication and I have taken up a few hobbies. I do not smoke, but I am still overweight. I need to address that. I have read up quite a bit about strokes, so I am more aware of them, how easily they occur and that I am not alone.

What would you say to other people to make them take stroke prevention seriously?

I would tell them that I was normal once – just like them…and within a few hours, life would never be the same. I often tell them that excess stress is not worth the lifelong sentence of being a stroke survivor. I believe our lifestyle, our values of what we need and what we want are blurred and that chasing what we need, can end in disaster – I would also tell them that I am just one of the stroke survivors in my family, because my entire family have had to carry my burden – and the guilt of that is heavy.

What is your reason for preventing strokes?

There is very little knowledge out there of what a stroke is, how it affects you, how it affects your family and how common it is. This could be changed.
My reason for preventing stroke? Watching my entire family carry the burden of my stroke Reviewed by Anita Wiseman on Friday, June 30, 2017 Rating: 5
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