“To this day I still remember the visit from the NICHS Stroke Family Support Co–ordinator. There is a lot I don’t remember of that time but I remember her visit because for the first time things didn’t seem so dark. She was like a light at the end of the tunnel.
“She was so friendly and encouraging and she had so much information for me and my family. Now I realise that knowledge is power.
“I had wonderful care from lots of doctors and nurses but I still felt very lonely, frightened and unsure of the future when I was in hospital and when I got home I was very low. It would have been very easy just to go under; I kept thinking why me? I had been retired for 3 years before my stroke, my wife and I had been having a wonderful time travelling, so I wasn’t under any stress and it was hard to understand why I had had a stroke and to accept that I had one.
“Stroke affects not just the person but also their family. For me, the only real physical effect is that sometimes my balance isn’t good. But my personality has been more affected. I used to be a demonstrative person but I am less so now. I can also have a quick temper;
small things that wouldn’t have bothered me in the past now anger or irritate me a lot quicker. My memory has also been affected which causes me problems; I was a professional chef but I can’t cook like I did before because I can’t remember the recipes. These things are “invisible” to many people, but not to my family because they have to live with them and adapt to them just like I have done.
“Through my contact with NICHS I am now an active volunteer both with NICHS and with other organisations. Through my Stroke Family Support Co–ordinator I have become a volunteer as I know how invaluable contact with other stroke survivors is. I know how lonely and frightened I was back at the start. But I hope that I can show people there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
“I am passionate about helping raise people’s awareness of NICHS and what they do. I received so much support from the charity but I didn’t know what they did until I needed them and I think many other people are the same.”
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Find out more about the stroke support that Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke offers.