22nd April 2003 and the following few days:
I suffered my stroke. After the first few days the longer term effects were clear. I couldn’t stand up, had difficulty in eating, my speech was effected, I had lost muscle control in the right side of my body, my right arm and hand were paralysed, I was incredibly tired all the time and I couldn’t think clearly at all.
In a convalescent home for 5 weeks during which time I was taught how to wash and dress myself one-handed. Paralysis in my face had eased and speech therapy had improved my speaking voice. I could stand and was starting to take my first steps but relied heavily upon an electric wheelchair. I had regained a little movement in my right arm but there was a worrying lack of any response in my right hand.
Twelve weeks after my stroke I regained the slightest movement in my right hand – literally the ability to just twitch my fingers.
July to October
I suffered chronic pain in my right arm which physiotherapy, acupuncture and medication from the doctor did nothing to alleviate. I took the law into my own hands and started on a regime of visits to a chiropractor and started popping pills of Omega 3 fish oil, either or both of which eventually did the trick. (Woopee)!
Went on my first trip away, registered as a disabled person. I had to use the ambulance lift to get on and off the plane but otherwise everything went OK.
I finished the year able to walk short distances in the house with my cane. Movement in my hand and arm had improved. I was practising daily exercises to improve the muscle tone in my right hip and leg and to allow me to lift my right arm up to shoulder height. Individual movement in my fingers had started to return.
January to July 2004
Small improvements all the time: better movement in my hands (although still unable to write as yet) and increasing range of movement in my arm. More confidence in walking and a smoother and more normal ‘gait’. Increasing confidence in going up and down small sets of steps. Feeling less tired towards the end of the day (but still going to bed between 9 and 10 at night)! At long last a greater clarity of thought.
Given the go-ahead by my doctor to apply for my driving licence again.
26 Sep 2004
First ‘driving lesson': A drive around a small deserted gravel car park. Scarey but OK.
Went up and down stairs at home (steep, narrow and therefore pretty hair raising even without the after effects of a stroke!)
01 Oct 2004
Assessment with a driving instructor: after a one hour drive around he pronounced me safe to drive.
03 Oct 2004
Went on my first ‘walk’ since pre stroke. Managed 400 yards. Confident I will do more next time.
04 Oct 2004
Did afternoon school run again for first time in 18 months.
23 to 29 October 2004
A week’s holiday on the mainland and I noticed two improvements:
Firstly, I spent the bulk of one afternoon on my feet, walking around – an obvious improvement in stamina.
…And secondly, I managed the steps onto and off the aircraft without problems.
For the last 3 months I have managed without using my electric wheelchair around the house and have decided to send it back to the hospital service.
I’m also becoming so used to walking around without even the use of my cane that at times I actually forget where I left it.
I’m walking pretty well and working my way back to a fit person’s 10,000 steps per day. To put it another way … right now I can manage a little under two miles walking with occasional brief stops along the way to rest and recoup. I usually take my walking cane but really it’s a ‘comforter’ rather than something that I actually need.
I’m back to cooking and baking but writing with my right hand still eludes me (although to be honest I don’t put in any real effort trying this – maybe because people are now starting to complement my left-hand writing)!
I understand only too well that if you’ve had a stroke you feel as though a freight train has just side-swiped you and wiped away your life. It’s quite desperate, I know. I just wanted to say here that despite what you may currently feel, there is life after a stroke and despite what the medics may have told you, you are likely to see improvements, even after some considerable time. Some of these improvements will be down to how determined you are, and your ability to maintain a positive approach. My family say that my sometimes bloody-minded attitude to life has worked in my favour towards my recovery. On the other hand, I’m aware that my personal innate laziness has perhaps slowed the rate at which some of the above list happened. No, my life isn’t the same as before and I can’t do some of the same things as before. On the other hand, I’m still here, I’m still fighting and I continue to improve.
The point is: Don’t give up.
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