Monday, 30 December 2013

Goodbye 2013

So it's hard to believe how fast this year has gone and now 16 months later, I really do feel as though I've finally overcome my stroke emotionally. It is something that I am now able to accept and I actually no longer resent the adapted me. It's been a long journey to reach this point but something that I am finally happy to keep in my past and allow myself to move forward. The biggest thing I have learnt throughout this while experience is to appreciate those around you a lot more and to realise that having a stroke doesn't always mean your life is over, it just means you have to be ready to face one of the biggest battles you will encounter in your life and if you persevere, have determination and a support unit behind you, you will reach those achievements, so don't give up :)

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Over a year later...

It's over a year ago now since I had my stroke and in terms of all the important health stuff, I'm doing pretty good. I've made adaptions to my diet, which has seen an introduction of meat (in small quantities) into my diet as well as much more greens because whilst I may have thought I was relatively fit last year, I don't think I was actively taking measures to ensure I was having a balanced diet. For example,  I used to regularly skip breakfast due to being so busy and as a teacher I didn't usually get home and ready to eat until late which meant I was eating at the wrong times too but now I'm absolutely on top of all those kinds of things, I make sure I have breakfast now (even if its really small, occasionally I'll just have some fruit), I also make sure I make the time to eat my lunch and dinner on time. Another thing, I've actively kept my eye on is my liquid intake just to make sure I'm keeping hydrated. Thankfully, I've had no headaches or anything like that for a good few weeks now which is definitely a positive.

Some things I have found hard though are things like being eased back into my own routine, which wasn't helped by the fact that my employer failed to comply with phased return to work procedure, instead they didn't respond - I guess for them, they just couldn't care less or appreciate that the circumstances for my time away were beyond my control. I did eventually receive a response 8 months later and was told that it was down to a change in leadership. I'm not entirely what I should do about it, on one hand I don't want the stress, but on the other I think it's absolutely disgraceful that they could do that to an employer and I want them to acknowledge that their actions were wrong in the way they dealt with me.

Obviously that has impacted my return (or rather non return) to my MA studies. I'm not able to financially afford the costs and will have to wait until I secure a more full time and permanent vacancy (whenever that will be). All these things, have had a hugely negative impact on me emotionally and psychologically as I'm constantly left feeling like I'm not good enough or frustrated that my life has been turned upside down and the aftercare isn't really that great. I think it's assumed that someone of my age is okay to be left to their own devices. I have really struggled with trying to get my head around the fact that this has completely rocked the path that I had created for myself and now I'm lagging behind so much and it's almost as if because I've physically covered, then it's all okay when infact it's the complete opposite. I tried to convince myself of that but occasionally when I'm caught off guard, I'm reminded how hard my life has become since having my stroke.

And yes, you could say I'm being incredibly cynical, but I think it's easy to say that from the outside looking in. I know that I am so lucky to still be here and to have made the near enough full recovery that I have, but part of me still isn't just content with that, I had bigger dreams and aspirations for myself and I still have every intention of reaching them, even if it means that it takes me years.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Stroke Care Teams

I have had the pleasure of speaking to many people who have been affected by stroke whether that be from people who themselves have suffered a stroke, or family members that understand the difficulties faced during rehabilitation periods to workers that have to work with stroke victims on a daily basis. I would like to share Amy Kelland's story who is an incredible care worker who rehabiltates stroke victims, and she has been kind enough to write a short testimonial detailing the types of patients she works with. If people donate to stroke organisations and help promote stroke awareness then it'll help give institutes the best equipment to ensure the best rehabilitation for all stroke patients:

I work as a domiciliary care supervisor.  In the community we have a large amount of service users who are stroke survivors.  I feel that the care staff sometimes find working with a stroke survivor as a daunting task especially when faced with someone with communication difficulties.  We have service users who cannot speak at all following a stroke.  People who cannot express what they want/ need e.g. mixing up yes and no, asking for a cup of tea when they want coffee.  This can become frustrating for both the care worker and the service user.  I encourage the staff to have patience and to actively support that person to get what they want/ need.  It can be a long, difficult road for some people.  But, I feel with the correct amount of support and time the service user can have massive benefits and improvements. 

The other big difficulty many of our stroke survivor service users face is mobility problems.  We have service users who have difficulty walking and also difficulty with fine motor skills such as doing buttons up.  We encourage our service users to do as much as they can for themselves, we help them with any tasks they find too difficult.

It is all about re-abling the person to live as much of a full life as they can after a stroke.


Learning to walk again!

Thank you

Whilst I know on this blog I have shared a lot of the bad experiences I had, I have never once failed to recognise all the good experiences and there were lots of them. I just want to take the time out to thank those members of staff at New Cross Hospital and West Park Rehabilitation. Also my family and friends who have been incredibly supportive and just for being there. Today, I look back on then and I can't believe how weak I was, especially as now I feel physically stronger then ever before. I'm hoping to do a fundraiser in September to raise money for stroke to give something back after they've given me my independence and me back. I'd also like to thank those of you that have gone to the efforts of sharing this blog to help promote stroke awareness, I hope that by sharing my experience that it will open up people to the whole support unit that goes into helping stroke victims rebuild their lives and how strokes impact not only the person but everyone else around them. Please share your stories as I believe there isn't enough awareness out there especially for young people too.

Can I go yet? TAKE #53

It's ward round day and I'm trying to keep a cool head, I mean if I am being discharged today then the celebrations can begin but if not then at least I'm not left shattered (tad dramatic I know, but that horrible feeling you get in your stomach, that's what I'd get when I was told I wasn't going home that day). The nurse came in to inform what time the Doctor will be calling so I got straight on the phone to my mum and sister who are already on their way.

They get here and the Dr and his team come in and he asks me the usual questions and I keep giving him the same answers. 'What do you want?' he asks, 'I think it's evident, it always has been' and he laughed and admitted he wasn't surprised to hear me say that. He asked the family to see if they were comfortable with it. Of course, they were and then he said the words; 'We'll get you discharged then'. I'd already had my bags packed and was ready to go but it wasn't as straight forward as that, at the earliest I'd be leaving tomorrow and he needed to get the results of the EEG before I was officially discharged. Complete FML I thought to myself, this was surely torture. I've finally been told I'm being discharged but I've just got to follow the discharge procedure. I thought that's what I'd been doing all these effin weeks. Grrr!

Next morning, the results came back from the EEG which confirmed that whilst I didn't have epilepsy, I was at high risk of possibly having another stroke in the next 6 months because of the trauma to the activity in the brain as result of the stroke. So, I was sort of out the woods or whatever that saying is. I've got to be going home now surely? Oh no, there was some kind of delay with getting the correct medication for me to leave with so my wait was prolonged. Eurghhhhhh.

Finally hours later, discharge letter in tow and all the needed medication in my bag it was time for me to get the hell out of there. It felt like I was dreaming but I finally did it. Six weeks later and I was out and whilst I wasn't 100% recovered, I was making the necessary steps forward to getting there and being home was definitely going to help that if not physically, definitely mentally.

What friend's are for :)

Monday and I've got two days until the 'possible' discharge. I've been on my best behaviour (ish) all week and don't even really look like I've had a stroke anymore except for the flacid arm. I had movement in the hand but was unable to lift the arm yet.

I hadn't seen Gav in almost 2 weeks now and was really missing him and was venting a lot of my frustrations on him. Part of me was worried that he'd see sense and find himself a better girl with two arms and legs that worked. Thankfully though Nat came to my rescue, she could see I was upset and frustrated with everything, especially Gav so she came over and we went for fish and chips in the park. The nice nurse let me go plus Nat's a nurse so if anything was to happen I was in the best hands. It was nice to just chat and vent about everything because Nat's the kind of person who sees the good in people so it was good for her to remind me that it's a tough time for everyone involved and that Gav not being around much was down to his hectic schedule and nothing against me. That made me see that this whole thing wasn't just hard for me to deal with but for those around me too.

Anyway, after saving me from the dog off the leash, Nat took me back to the hospital and headed off. Kiran was there waiting with food and drinks and fresh clothes and my day just got even better, she was telling me how much I'd improved and that she reckons I'll be out tomorrow, I wasn't as confident though because everytime I built the excitement up, it'd come crashing down with the realisation that I'd be stuck in these dreaded four walls for at least another week. That night I was eager to get to bed just so that I when I'd next wake up it'd be ward round day y and then I'd be put out my misery once and for all...