Now that I have taken part in NICHS’s Post Rehabilitation Exercise Programme (PREP) I now have the courage and confidence to mix with people again that have also been hit by strokes and am learning important exercises to try and help my condition. (It is not easy trying to tell people how your whole life has been destroyed.) However, the stroke hit my balance and left side really badly, and my wife has to support me when not in my wheelchair….For me and my wife normal living is not possible , my wife has to look after me 24/7. I used to run 4 miles per day, every day. All my hobbies were physical and the depression/ stroke took them away. PREP has opened up the way to communicate and talk about it.
My wife Liz and I moved to Enniskillen from England 2.5 years ago. Our daughter bought a property so we moved here to be with her because she helps us with my conditsion, and to be closer to her and the children. It was one of the best things we have ever done.
I have had 2 strokes. The first one happened when we lived in England. It affected my balance and mobility on my left hand side from the shoulder down.
On the morning of the stroke I tried to get out of bed. Liz was in the bathroom. I had no feeling in my left leg but managed to walk to the bathroom to tell her something was wrong. By the time I got there I had lost all feeling in my left hand side and my face was distorted.
Liz called the ambulance but the crew thought it was just a TIA because I could still move. Liz had to insist they took me to hospital.
After my first stroke I had to use crutches, which I was far too young for. I also ended up having to retire.
After the stroke in England I had 6 weeks’ physio from the health service but then no support after that, not even regular check-ups with my GP. Having experienced stroke care now in Northern Ireland, I can see what care can and should be like.
I had my second stroke in Enniskillen, here in February 2016. In fact I had it actually in the South West Acute Hospital!
Before the stroke I was experiencing symptoms that I didn’t understand – tiredness, fatigue, trouble spelling words, trouble with my eyesight and slurred speech. Liz insisted I went to the doctor and I was sent for an MRI scan. It turned out that I had been having small bleeds, causing the symptoms but while I was actually in the MRI scanner, I was having a large bleed. So I was immediately admitted for a stroke.
The clinical team in the South West Acute Hospital and in particular Dr Kelly were fantastic. The stroke aftercare here in Northern Ireland is also so much better than I received before. We were both shocked by the aftercare we received from the health service and Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke compared to what I received in England.
Norma, NICHS’s Stroke Family Support Co-ordinator, had been in contact before my second stroke, because of my medical history, but I didn’t want to get involved in NICHS. I’m a solitary person and groups aren’t normally my thing. It is so hard to talk about it to others.
But after the second stroke I was referred through to PREP and I felt I had to go. It was part of the aftercare. But I was happy to go.
PREP has been very good for me as it has got me to mix with people and discuss all the symptoms and effects of strokes that the general public can’t see. As I said, I am a solitary person and I don’t find it easy to mix with people. But I have really enjoyed PREP.
Since PREP I have started to believe that I can use the determination that PREP has taught me. It’s made a difference to my thinking…Never give up.
Find out more about the stroke support that Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke offers.