Onyinye Iromba, a stroke survivor and stroke ambassador with Stroke Action Nigeria shares her story.

Where were you when you had your stroke?
I was at home sleeping and it was at about 3 am. I never knew it was stroke and I was staying alone in the house when the stroke happened.

Could you access hospital?
Yes but that was after 5 hours because I was taken to a private hospital where they put me on drip before the doctor referred me to the teaching hospital where I was attended to.

What expectations did you have for your treatment, rehabilitation, therapy and recovery?
I was expecting that within a week I will be ok, but as time goes on after spending all the money I had, I now know that it’s not going to be easy, I was full of fears that I wanted to give up on myself that it’s over for me, because I have searched for treatment, rehabilitation, therapy but I couldn’t find, people keep collecting money without result until I heard about Stroke Action Nigeria on AIT Television and then went and visited their Life After Stroke Centre in Abuja.

What was your experience of treatment and /or rehabilitation and therapy?
I will say that since I found Stroke Action Nigeria sometime after I was discharged from hospital that my experiences of rehabilitation and therapy have been a wonderful one. I was put on their functional rehabilitation and exercise training after stroke program. This helped me to gain confidence in myself and start speaking and walking properly again. Now I know from the stroke impact scale assessment that 90% of the time the effort that I make to recover is my decision and I work on my exercise a lot for good result.

One of the experiences I encountered was a day I entered a cab, someone in the cab saw me and got out from the cab. I was so angry that I felt why will this person do this because I had a stroke and even the driver was trying to beg him to come back that the thing is not transferable.

What has helped you in your recovery?
What has actually helped me in my recovery is first my faith that I will get better, secondly I have to accept that I have had a stroke and that stroke is not the end of my life. I must move on, go out and look for something to keep me busy and I try as much as I can not to feel depressed. At first, I used to cry a lot but through counselling support from Stroke Action Nigeria I learnt to stop crying and speak in public. I was coached to be able to speak to all the delegates and media people during the Stroke Assembly Conference at the Hilton Hotel Abuja on World Stroke Day which is organized by Stroke Action Nigeria.

What have been/are your fears?
My fears are whether I will be able to get employed with or after the stroke because from my past experiences once they hear I am a stroke survivor they will turn me down after the interview for job. I was a manager in a private company before my stroke, but I was dismissed when I had a stroke. Stroke Action Nigeria trained me as a volunteer Stroke Ambassador so now I am two days a week as an admin support for their prevention clinic and a peer coach for exercise training helping other stroke survivors to get better. I also do home and hospital befriending for stroke survivors twice a month.

Secondly, I was afraid that I will not be able to still walk normally after the stroke, but the exercise training helped me a lot. I now use public transport unescorted from my house to the Life After Stroke Centre.

How did your family and friends feel and respond?
My mum felt bad when she came to meet me in the hospital, my friends and colleagues were shocked because I was with them at the office the previous day, and they wondered how can this happen to me, some never believed it until they saw me. My father is late. I needed a lot of help from my mum and brothers when I was discharged from hospital.

Reviewed by Sarah Belson on Thursday, November 30, 2017 Rating: 5

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