One night in December 2016, 50 year old Nabendu Das Gupta went to bed feeling fine as usual. When he woke the next morning, the father of two noticed weakness in his arms and that he couldn’t speak clearly. Fortunately Nabendu’s wife is a nurse and knew what was happening to her husband. She called an ambulance immediately and Nabendu was taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital where he remained for four days.
“In the aftermath of the stroke my right arm and voice were most affected. I was sent to the Lisburn Stroke Unit were I received great help from the Occupational Therapist and Speech Therapist. I had previously worked for the Ulster Bank call centre but I couldn’t return to work due do my damaged voice box.
“It was the team in Lisburn that suggested Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke (NICHS). Isobel (NICHS Stroke Family Support) came to my home in Dunmurry and talked to me. She was really helpful and provided guidance for me. She referred me on to the Post-Rehab Exercise Programme (PREP).”
Nabendu completed the six week PREP cycle and commented that it was good for him physically and socially. “It’s good to share your thoughts and experiences with other people”. He admits that he did find PREP tiring to begin with, but he sought inspiration from other people in the group. “I would look around and see others in worse condition than me and thought they can do it so there’s no reason why I can’t do it.”
Nabendu credits NICHS and PREP for helping him build confidence by setting small goals to achieve. He is a keen chef and avid photographer. Simple tasks such as stirring food with a wooden spoon and holding a camera to take photos became very difficult. “I would try to take photos but they would come out blurry because I couldn’t hold the camera still”. He now finds it easier to hold his camera and loves visiting different places to take pictures.
It was Nabendu’s pro-active mind-set that aided his recovery most. He was determined to overcome his condition. Prior to his stroke Nabendu would get out of bed at 5.30am to start his day. However, fatigue meant that he was too tired to do this and he would stay in bed until 9.30am. He is happy to report that he is back getting up at his regular time each and every morning!
After his stroke, the father of two wasn’t confident about travelling by plane. However he built up the confidence and is able to visit his eldest daughter who is studying at university in England. At the beginning of 2019 Nabendu even made the 29 hour trip to see his mother back in his native India.
After he finished PREP, Nabendu decided he wanted to give back to NICHS. “I got in contact with Anne (NICHS Head of Volunteering) and as of December 2018, started volunteering at the Stroke Activity Group in Morton Community Centre in Belfast. I love giving back and supporting people who are in a similar situation as I was.”
Nabendu is going one step further to give back to the charity as he is taking part in the 2019 Belfast Marathon. He has entered the Fun Run in support of Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke. As well as supporting the cause that has helped him so much, Nabendu also wanted to take part in the marathon as a friend of his who took a massive stroke is running. “If he can do it, then I can; and if I can do it, anyone can!”
Nabendu is a diabetic which makes him more at risk of stroke. The doctors at the hospital informed him that he also had very high blood pressure which increased his risk also. He now monitors his blood pressure regularly with a machine at his home. After his stroke he was only able to walk for a few minutes before getting tired. Now he is an active walker; usually walking 40 minutes each day.
Nabendu encourages other people living with a chest, heart or stroke condition to seek the help of NICHS. “In your journey there are ups and downs, you have to slowly build confidence. Don’t be closed off. Speak to people about how you feel – together you will come up with a solution.”
Find out more about the stroke support that Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke offers.