This was my initial brain scan, the huge white blob is blood and the little white blob is part of the same clot hence why both sides of my body were affected. I had psychological help for 2 years and that really helped, I only take one sleeping pill now……Small steps…so true……thanks for sharing RS
My Stroke journey by MC
A little bit about me – I am a single parent bringing up my granddaughter under a special guardianship order. I was working full time (31 hours) in secondary education. My life was busy, used to walk to work, on average daily I would walk between 15,000 to 20,000 steps a day especially when at work. I loved my job.
October 23rd 2021 the day my life altered.
It was the start of half-term holidays, a break from work and to do things with my granddaughter, who was 12 at the time. I was going to meet my daughter, Cassie, who was 21 years old, in Bristol to watch a show with her at the hippodrome. I woke up that morning not feeling 100% but put it down to being busy at work.
I got up done my breakfast and made a cup of tea, went to the bathroom and experienced double vision. I took some paracetamol and double vision eased and no longer experiencing double vision but just didn’t feel that special. My balance was a little off, but I just thought I had the start of a headache.
I got showered, dressed and made sure my granddaughter was ready and started to drive from Taunton to Bridgwater to drop off my granddaughter at my friend’s house as she was looking after her so I could meet my daughter in Bristol to watch the show. My granddaughter told me to pull over as she could see I wasn’t well and my friend phoned me to say ‘your running late’. I said I know I was but could she come and get me as I didn’t feel 100%. She came out to me with her partner, and I got out the car but couldn’t really walk, left side didn’t feel right. She got me back to her house, where she called 999.
I was assessed over the telephone and they suspected that I had had a stroke, I had to say a sentence about blackbirds I think but couldn’t really manage that and hold my arms out in front of myself, left arm dropped. I was tired, but managed a cup of tea with sugar in, and managed to get myself to the toilet.
Paramedics arrived and checked me over and suspected a stroke and I was blue lighted into Musgrove Park Hospital, where I was taken straight to the CT scanner and the stroke team were waiting for me. I was asked to move my left leg and left arm, but they wouldn’t cooperate. I was given a CT scan then I had another one with dye put into me. I can remember saying to one of the nurses please don’t let me die, she assured me I wasn’t going to die. I was then transferred to the stroke ward.
I had had a stroke, a blood clot in my thalamus. I was 57 years and 7 months old, a young one really. I was worried about my girls and what life would be like for us now. At the same time it was confirmed that I had a stroke they also suspected a tumour on my pituitary gland. I had an MRI on the Monday, and this was confirmed, so as well as being under the stroke team I would also be under the endocrine team.
I needed to go to the toilet, and I wasn’t allowed to go, they got me a commode! I felt so embarrassed using that, I was determined that I would be walking the following day. So, on the Sunday morning I was assessed by the stroke physio for walking, I walked but wasn’t my normal walking, but I walked, no more commode I could use the bathroom.
The stroke affected my walking, and struggled to text, my texts were gobbly glook! I was lucky as I could walk, talk, and feed myself, not like I was doing but I was doing it. There were other ladies on the ward that had had strokes and they were incapable of feeding themselves and were bed ridden.
I got discharged on the Tuesday 26th October, with my discharge paperwork and medication, and was verbally told I would have a follow up appointment six weeks later. No guidance of what I could expect etc. I know compared to others this was a short stay in hospital and I get that, but I was lost. No reason as to why I had the stroke, not sure about the tumour either and the outcome.
I went to my friend’s house to recuperate after the hospital, but I went back home on the Saturday, I wanted to know what I could or not do for myself, plus I needed my things around me.
The stroke has affected me sometimes I struggle to find the right words, I struggle to walk any distance and was using a stick to walk. I still use the stick on my bad days. Walking on uneven ground was difficult and certain types of flooring used to make me wobbly. I was walking with my left foot at the ten to hour position, more like shuffling. I contacted the stroke rehabilitation team to come and do an assessment inside my home, it was recommended that I had a bath board, and a handrail on the right-hand side of my stairs. As most days I would struggle to go up and down the stairs, I went up like a monkey using my arms to balance me on the steps and then shuffle down on my bottom. Couldn’t have the handrail fitted as my house was less than 10 years old, so I persevered walking and managing the stairs. Some days still can’t do, so monkey stature it is lol. I also had to re-educate myself with walking by saying to myself heel, toe, heel toe. My walking is progressing but still struggle to walk distances but I’m not giving up.
Stroke fatigue, oh that’s a buggar when it stops you dead! I think that is and still is the worst thing about having the stroke, you have to find a way to manage it, to be able to do. And if you don’t it knocks you for six and you have to rest. If stroke fatigue is bad, then my left side plays up. I find that I still can’t do the level of activity I used to be able to do. I describe stroke fatigue as my brain needs to be still and my body needs to stop so I can recharge. I really get annoyed when people, so they understand this as they are tired. Stroke fatigue isn’t just being tired it’s not being able to think, do or function some days. And stroke fatigue doesn’t just disappear after a quick power nap.
I also never asked ‘why me’ but accepting the stroke and liking the new me wasn’t easy but I’ve had to learn to accept it so that I can recover. As my own doctor said to me, I needed to allow myself to grieve the old me to be able to accept the new me.
My stroke didn’t just affect me, it affected my family, friends. I lost a friendship due to my stroke, some family members haven’t been that supportive, but it taught me as to who are there for me, when life certainly knocks you down.
My stroke really affected my granddaughter, and education really have not been that supportive of her, which also affects me as she attends the school where I work! It’s been a difficult and long journey and I’m still on the recovery journey striving to do better and get back to work.
Education is beginning to be better for my granddaughter, but it’s been a fight, a battle of over 19 months, should I have had to battle? Yes, I battled for her as the education system had failed her. But with the constant stress and battles re school and her not attending hasn’t helped my recovery but it’s what it is, I can only move forwards now and concentrate on the present and future.
One major high for me last year, 2022, was that my daughter graduated at Swansea University in Law and Criminology, I watched her graduated, I cried but oh my didn’t it exhaust me for a few days but worth it.
My tumour was removed on March 25th, 2023, so now tumour free and that’s another story. I think this has helped my granddaughter to start to go to school again, she still on a part-time timetable but that’s an achievement.
My aim is to try to get back to work, will I achieve it? You will have to wait and see and will my working life be different to what it was before my stroke.
My life is different since my stroke, calmer, and I enjoy doing things like puzzles now, just chilling is also good. My life was rush, rush before stroke. Not anymore because I can’t, and I have to plan days out with rest periods in between or not do days out consecutively.
So, to all stroke survivors don’t give up, keep trying, celebrate your achievements no matter how small. Life is for living and I’m grateful for every day I wake up. Thanks for Shar