I just got back from a physio session. Adams placement finishes on friday, I am genuinely sad about this he’s been absolutely amazing and made me feel comfortable from the beginning. He is on his placement here but if no-one had told me I would have had no idea, anyway so today in physio he had me working really hard. first I was walking up some stairs which went ok but i really need to work on lifting my leg back so my toes don’t get caught on the edge of the step, after this we did some walking which felt so much easier than my fail of an attempt last time wanting to do as much as I could we kept practising walking. Adam and another physio Pete lead me back down the corridor towards my room. I so nearly made it aswell but with the door in sight my leg had grown hideously tired and I was struggling to make the secure base with it that I needed before stepping with my right foot. still pleased with the work I had done Pete went to get my wheelchair whilst adam tried to get me to stand with my weight through both legs, my left leg was so tired it started shaking so we called it a day but I was pleased with the effort I had made. It was great to know that after the difficulties I had last time I was able to walk confidently again with a little help.
At the age of 21 i’m sure my plans for the future are much different than those of elderly sufferers of strokes. Already my life had been put on hold, before this I was a third year media studies student at the university of Brighton, working part time at Urban Outfitters, Interning at The Tony Marks New Music Show at Juice 107.2 and generally having the time of my life. Since the stroke I had been worried about how and when I would get back to it. my main worry was about graduating, having already started my second semester of third year I knew that there was no way I would be up for finishing it in time for graduation. My lecturers informed me that I could intermit, meaning I could return to my university course whenever I was ready. Although I knew this was best for my recovery it bothered me that I wouldn’t be graduating with my friends this summer as I had been expecting too.After speaking to my lecturers though they assured me I could still attend the ceremony to support my friends graduation and reminded me of the good grades I had recieved so far, setting me a promising start for when I do return, refreshed and recovered with new class mates who will hopefully become friends and with old friends who have had a year out on placement. Instead of concentrating on who I would be in Brighton with I was dwelling on all the people who would no longer be here. I also only have to complete one semester and it is now something Im looking forward too.
Other worries I had included wether or not I’d be able to drink which I understand is not incredibly important and I would be able to handle not drinking however I do love sitting on the beach with a cider and it was something I looked forward to doing when I was well enough, a volunteer from the stroke associasition suggested it was all about standard of life, i shouldnt not drink because Im worried about having a stroke, as the doctor informed me I am no more likely to have a stroke again than anyone sat reading this. but drinking alcohol is still something I need to ask my doctor about.
I worried about flying - travelling is such a huge plan for my future and has been since i first flew to new zealand in 2008, as far as I know I am still going to be able to fly just not quite yet and for a while I might struggle getting travel insurance but once I have fully recovered everything should be A OK and my around the world trip will still be taking place! After this I would probably fly anyway, if anythings shown me to live my life to the full its having a stroke.
Having spoken to my friends it quickly became clear that even now none of us were sure how to recgnise a stroke. This worried me as had I been at home when the stroke hit my housemates may have thought I had simply fainted and vice versa had it been one of them. I had never heard of anyone elderly let alone my age suffering from a stroke and it certainly wouldn’t have been the first thing I’d of assumed.
Over 130,000 people suffer from a stroke Every year and they can happen to anyone so it is important to be able to recognise the signs of a stroke . The NHS suggest the best way to recognise a stroke is with the Fast test which helps recognise 9 of 10 Strokes. Here are the things to check for according to the NHS
- Face: the face may have dropped on one side, the person may not be able to smile or their mouth or eye may have drooped
- Arms: the person with suspected stroke may not be able to lift one or both arms and keep them there because of arm weakness or numbness
- Speech: their speech may be slurred or garbled, or the person may not be able to talk at all despite appearing to be awake
- Time: it is time to dial 999 immediately if you see any of these signs or symptoms
These symptoms may dissapear but don’t hesitate calling the ambulance as they may have suffered from a minor stroke or TIA which can lead to a major stroke at a later time.
According to the NHS “Time is brain” is the message from stroke experts. It means that prompt action can prevent further brain damage and help someone make a full recovery. If the policemen who found me had not reacted so quickly I doubt my recovery would have been as fast and as successful as it has been.
Delay can result in death or major long-term disabilities, such as paralysis, severe memory loss and communication problems. I hope this highlights to you how important it is to be able to recognise a stroke. By being able to do so you could save a loved ones life or prevent them from becoming permanantly disabled.
STROKES are said to be the leading cause of disability in the UK so please understand the standard of life you could be helping someone maintain simply by being able to recognise when a stroke strikes and remember this can happen to anyone, just because someone is young does not mean they are safe from a stroke click here to view risk factors according to the NHS
Counting down the nights untill my freedom I couldn’t help but think about all the things i’d been missing from home, my double bed was top of my list, being able to eat what I fancied when I fancied it was next, I couldn’t wait to not have to choose my meals 2-3 days before I’d be eating them, not being asked wether or not ‘my bowels had opened’ every single day, something that drove me mad. If i had a problem with anything pretty sure I would have told them but what I was most excited about was not being woken up at 7:30 every morning. It was as if they didn’t want me to sleep. ever. one night the nurses in the ward were talking so loud i thought I was going to have to hop out there and deck them. It was worse than being in university halls. the morning after I had been to see Mcfly I was desperately trying to get back to sleep when a nurse popped her head in the door and said “are you sleeping?” i’m not sure what it looked like but i’m pretty sure I wasn’t running around my room. even writing about it makes me angry. i’d have slept longer if I was recovering from a hangover so why were they waking me up so early post-stroke? There were days when I would wake up to men who I had never seen before mopping my room or emptying my bin- so much for privacy and for a 21 year old girl who cant use half of her body it was at times scary to wake up too. and this was in a private room. I hate to imagine the lack of privacy on a ward, the short time I spent on one i didn’t enjoy seeing other patients or other patients seeing me, although to be fair I was upset the whole time I was on the ward and I don’t like people seeing me upset at the best of times. Generally thougfh I’m not a very private person, I love to share my thoughts and feelings with well anyone who will listen, this is one of the reasons I have very few secrets. However after having the stroke I found it difficult not having a choice when it came to privacy, to begin with I needed help when washing and I appreciated the help but once I had become independent enough to wash my self the nurses still insisted on helping me which I found incredibly degrading, if i was capable of doing it, why wouldn’t they let me?
Whilst I might be OK fake tanning infront of my best friends I didn’t really want every single nurse that exists seeing me wash myself .Eventually, once my washing and dressing had been assesed by occupational therapists I started getting myself out of bed as soon as I woke up and washed and dressed before the nurses had a chance to help me. I actually enjoyed doing this, it was reassuring knowing I could cope considerably well without the nurses and it was nice not feeling judged on how well I could cope. With nurses or therapists there it often felt like they were judging me on how well I was coping, although they had to do this to know I was capable of looking after myself at home it was something I hated. I was worried they would decide I wasnt coping with my current situation well enough. Luckily it turns out I was and they were pleased with all the progress I was making.
Whilst in rehabilitation I also felt that some nurses didn’t quite know how to deal with me. I’m not sure if its because at 21 I am their youngest patient or if they just weren’t used to people being as independent as me, one day I was asked if I had eaten dinner to which I replied yes and as if I didn’t exist the nurse looked at my mum and asked her if I had eaten, the same hapened when I washed myself in the morning, perhaps they thought I couldn’t do it but I could and it felt that the more independent I became the more they wanted to supress me. It became clear that some nurses didn’t quite know how to handle an independent 21 year old who had life throw her a shit hand whilst older patients might have been happy being the patient I was determined not to turn into the patient and get out of here as soon as I could which meant doing as much for myself as possible. I was much happier doing things myself in hospital even if I had to struggle a little, I hated asking to be taken to the toilet, I felt like I was in primary school again, so one night I transferred into my wheelchair and took myself, it was successful although i’m sure if any of the nurses found out I was doing this they would freak out, but I knew I was capable of doing it. As I type this a nurse came into my room to ask me if I need help when I go to the toilet and if next time I need to go could she watch me take myself there so she can see how well i’m doing. ermmmm. fantastic can’t wait.naat. I was also warned by one nurse to not transfer by myself, something I had been doing for about 4 weeks when she warned me,I was very aware that I shouldn’t push myself too far incase anything happend, I didn’t want my discharge date to be put back! in my first week on the solomon ward I was determined to reach the toilet roll from the toilet without needing help I couldn’t yet stand and hadn’t yet refound my centre of gravity , something the stroke had effected and I ended up losing my balance and falling off the toilet, something I now find hilarious but I was very concious of being left alone following this. To say these wards are set up for stroke victims or people who are being rehabilitated they are set up ridiculously and its something that actually makes me really angry. I have grown to despise the table i’ve been provided in my room.before I could properly move my leg and all i wanted to do was practice I found it incredibly claustrophobic having a plank of wood over me, preventing me from practicing, this claustrophobia was highlighted because it was difficult to manouver with one arm. Its wheels reacted much like a broken shopping trolley. so once it was over me i struggled to move it away. Why would they give this to someone that had lost movement in one of their arms? the other thing I found highly ridiculous was the lay out of the toilets. they were so small you could barely fit a wheel chair in there let alone manouver it. so after the fiasco of getting in there, the toilet roll was on the lefhandside which made getting any a dfficult for me since the stroke. effected my leftside. at times when the toilet dispenser was closed even my able bodied friends couldnt get into it. and then there was handwashing. the hand wash was screwed onto the wall so high it was ridiculous, I mean come on this is a hospital disabled toilet its not like we’re in a pub. I can’t be the first person to have thought these things. Once I was able to take a couple of steps the layout of the toilets stopped bothering me so much. Having my leg movement back was like being free again.
whilst I have been writing this blog post, 3 nurses have entered my room for various reasons. I can’t wait to have some time to myself, not worrying when the next nurse is going to stroll into my room.
With my discharge date set I began to think about how far i’d come in my speedy recovery. I thought back to my first ever physio session where I couldn’t move my arm or leg and I had facial weakness which I didn’t even know about- I still didn’t really understand what having a stroke meant. I just had to sit there while physio therapists tried to wake my muscles up and checked I still had sensation in my leg and arm. I was then told to sit infront of a mirror and practice smiling. For an image conscious 21 year old this was a big shock for me, I hardly recognised my own face. my smile had dropped and instead of smiling in front of the mirror I ended up crying my eyes out. now only 4 weeks since my stroke my facial weakness is subsiding. although I still notice the drop on my smile at times, for example,when I am tired or upset it isn’t anywhere near as significant as it was at the start .Everyone who saw me within that first week comments on how i’ve “got my smile back” every time they visit me. truthfully my smile is only full when I am genuinely smiling, by sitting me in front of that mirror and telling me to smile I was never going to be able too - I felt shit anyway, and the shock of seeing myself was not going to be the thing that made me smile. it did however encourage me to do facial excersises - simple things such as opening my mouth wide and the closing it shut, pouting and puffing out then sucking in my cheeks, something the nurses had suggested. I found by practicing these in bed at night slowly my facial weakness got less and less, 4 weeks and 1 day since the stroke, I rarely notice it at all and from what everyone around me says neither can anyone else.
After being told that simply thinking about moving my arm or leg would help new brain cells learn how to do it, it was all i thought about (and still is). For me all of this thinking, trying & failing eventually paid off as less than a week after the stroke I tried to lift my leg up whilst in bed and to my surprise it lifted. this was the start of me being able to use my lower limb again. When I moved to princess royal hospital I had to be assessed by the physio therapists again to see where they would start with me. knowing that my leg had been working, if only a little bit, my physio adam asked me to lift it up to which I replied “I can’t” something that he still reminds me of every time i say I can’t do something as instantly after I was able to do exactly as he had asked. I had to do some weird things in physio, to get my leg working but mostly I was practicing standing. my balance was completely off with all my weight going through my right leg. my physios had to constantly remind me to put some weight through my left leg but it was hard to trust something that I had repeatedly been told wasn’t working. As my confidence in my leg grew so did my ability to stand on it and soon i was standing with ease with an almost central balance. knowing I could stand I began practicing stepping movements whilst in bed at night. I was desperate to know I could do it and get out of this wheelchair.
Eventually I had a plaster-cast taken of my leg which would be used to create a splint for my leg, holding my foot at an angle to stop my leg from locking back and enable me to start walking. A week after the cast had been taken my splint was returned, this was it. this meant I could take my first post stroke steps and I couldn’t wait. taking my first steps was much easier than I thought i’m not sure if this was because of the trust I had in my physio or the confidence I had found in my leg. It was weird having to think so hard about walking. i had to make sure I had found my balance and strength in my left leg, t before stepping with my right leg but once I got used to it i didn’t want anyone to stop me. In my second walking physio session my physio sat in front of me on a wheely chair holding my hip and knee to make sure they didn’t give way and rolled backwards whilst I walked towards him. he was hardly touching me. I was almost walking independently - something I had worried I wouldn’t be able to do any time soon.
with all of this success with my leg I couldn’t help but be disappointed why my arm wasn’t seeing much movement, although I could lift it from my shoulder and bend it a little from my elbow something that returned 3 weeks after my stroke it was nothing compared to what was working in my leg. Apparently apart from the toes, the arm is generally the last thing to come back - although I don’t really know why, it seems to be quite common and nothing for me to worry about. ANYWAY, the most important thing for me was to get walking, out of this wheelchair and back home asap. As soon as I could walk I was one step closer to being myself again. When I first began physiotherapy I was told that some days I’d be able to walk and some days I wouldn’t. After my last successful walking session I was shocked when I found it much more difficult to walk, although life (as if it hadn’t already thrown enough crap at me) thought it would treat me to catching a cold so I wondered wether or not it was harder because I felt run down. Although I was finding it much more difficult and tiring my physios assured me my technique was coming back nicely and all I needed was a bit more practice- good job I had 8 physio sessions before I was discharged, but I still felt disappointed knowing that I could do it and not really understanding why I’d found it so hard this time.
Four weeks and one day since the stroke I attempted to walk up stairs in physio. It was much harder than walking but for a first attempt i’d say it was pretty good. the physio therapist seems to think that once I have my walking sorted out waking up steps will come with ease, I just have to remember “good leg to heaven, bad leg to hell” so when walking upstairs my good leg needs to go first so it can push up and when coming down my bad leg goes first so my good leg can lower me down. confusing but helpful. After this physio session they decided to see if I had any movement in my foot something that I was sure I hadn’t however they found that I could extend and flex my big toe and push the ball of my foot down. I genuinely couldn’t believe how quickly my body seemed to recover. The hard work and positive thinking was continuously paying off.
One of the strangest things about a stroke is that the whole time I have been in hospital the most pain I was i have been in was when the doctors were taking my blood, which they did too often - at times I was sure that I wouldn’t have any blood left for them to take. I did not feel ill at all, even when the stroke hit I didnt feel especially ill, I don’t even recall having a headache. OK so I have been tired but hey, when arn’t I? if it wasnt for my left leg and arm I felt like I could have jumped out of bed and ran all the way home. Ok who am I kidding I don’t run,ever. but you get the idea.In a way this made being in hospital difficult. Unlike an illness I wasn’t waiting to feel better or for the pain of an operation to subside. I was waiting for my brain to learn new ways of controlling my left handside and in the mean time I had to practice practice practice wgich was so tiring and find ways to pass the time. The nurses have asked me everyday if I am in any pain and since day one the answer has been No.At points I had wondered if it would be easier to be in hospital with a broken leg although I decided I would then have been waiting for my leg to heal, similar to the wait for my brain to learn but less hard work. It would have been equally as boring with added pain.
A short 3 weeks and 2 days after my stroke the rehabilitation team gathered with me and my mum to discuss my progress- setting my discharge date for APRIL8th merely 6 weeks into my 2 year recovery. My worries of being housebound were void as on the same morning I recieved my splint for my leg - making me feel much like a robot this splint helped hold my foot at an angle making it easier for me to stand and in theory walk. so 3 weeks and 2 days since my stroke I took my first post stroke steps for the physiotherapists to assess. There decision was made I should be able to walk with supervision in 2 weeks and independently in 3 and for the stairs which they thought would make me house bound? No problem. I was so happy - only 2 & a half weeks untill my discharge but I worried about getting too excited incase walking was harder than expected. The wierdest thing about learning to walk again was that I knew how to do it, my leg was even doing what I told it too but keeping my balance and weight through my left leg made it especilly hard to take steps with my right. As my leg gets stronger this is something that will eventually come with ease and the more I walked the less the physios helped me and the easier I found it. when i struggled to take steps often all that was needed was a prompt from my physio to straighten my leg a little more, something that eventually i wouldn’t need reminding about.
Everyone keeps telling me how proud of me they are and how amazing I’m doing - OK so i have been working hard but the truth is I only coped so well because of evey single person who supported me through visits, cards and e-mails and to those that visited regukarly I love you so so much and I could not have done this without every single one of you.
They assured me that no-one could force me to move back in with my mum. It may sound silly but i’ve had good feelings about being able to walk for the last week or so now and I know how hard i’m going to have to work to achieve it but if aron ralston can amputate his own arm i’m pretty sure i can take a few steps. after all just this week I had taught myself to move my left arm again as the nice old man next door told me before he was alowed to go home - it’s all a mental game if you tell yourself you can do it it will with effort and time - happen. It seems that stroke survivors see the recovery as a variety of different ‘games’ to Barry it was a mental game. I however saw it more as a waiting game. was there much more to do other than wait? of course there was Physio but in between this it was just waiting for the messages i was comstantly sending from my brain to reconnect to my left side giving me my movement back in my arm and leg. This does not mean I was not aware of the hard work involved in recovering I have been trying to move my arm and leg pretty much 24/7 since this happened and as im sure many other people recovering from stroke will be aware merely thinking about moving your arm can help the recovery process, something that I have found infuriating and mentally tiring. Can you imagine constantly thinking about moving a part of your body and it simply not responding to your commands? I couldn’t even compare the feeling of it to anything.this is why i deem this a waiting game. whilst telling my arm to move and even aiding it to move with the help of my able arm it was a matter of time before I could move my arm from my shoulder. Initially I moved it with the help of the occupational therapists but after the first time i struggled to get my muscles going again untill two nights later when whilst in bed, i was able to touch my face repeatedly with my left arm due to the lack of control in my muscles it ended up with me hitting myself in my face over and over but it didnt matter to me. the waiting and hard work had paid off it was now only a matter of time before i could use my hand and eventually have smoother movement in my arm - similar to the progress my leg made after its initial lift.
Three weeks since the ‘super-wack stroke happened to my head (thanks Darwin Deez) I had still only cried three times, when the nurses sat me in front of the mirror, on my bad day (as discussed and once again when my doctor came to advise me to move back to lincolnshire with my mum - my worst nightmare. I left home at the age of 18 and returning is something that has never been on the cards for me and in my eyes would not help aid my recovery but instead would more likely make me mentally unstable, depression is something I thought moving home would bring on, even before I had suffered from a stroke. I had considered seeing the hospitals counsellor but decided against it as I thought talking about how I felt might blow the positivity I had been trying so hard to keep around me, If i let my feelings take over, would I hinder my recovery? Of course consellors are the right options for some people but I felt it would help me more once I was back at home and at a stage of recovery I was comfortable with.A few days later a physiotherapist came by to say that if I was to return to my home in Brighton it is likely that I might be housebound as I may not have re-aquired the ability to walk by the time I am discharged something that they have estimated might happen within the next 2 weeks, only 5 weeks following the stroke on that temporarily life hindering day. This was a shock to me as I had been under the impression that I would not be dischrged untill my ability to walk had been regained. Apparently I had been mistaken. Having a good old weep once again my dad, his girlfriend my brother, mum and friend went for a pub lunch to talk over the possible options. Once we returned to the hospital my perfect physio adam and zoe who had only assesed me once discussed this again, deeming returning to my mothers house unfeasable understanding that my whole life is in Brighton and (worst-case scenario_being housebound here would be a thousand times better than (worst case scenario) being housebound in lincolnshire.
It felt like I was the easy way of freeing up some bed space. being young, healthy and increasingly independent again, and knowing that my mum was here to look after me it seemed as though they assumed that I would have happily moved back with my mum. As I was coping so well and recovering so quickly it was easy to ask me to move home with mum acting as my carer. I was even told they couldnt hold a bed depending on “wether I was walking or not” but once I showed I was determined to stay in Brighton they had no choice but to get me working hard on walking again. My mum pointed out that they wouldnt send a 60 year old up to lincoln to live with their son so why should theybe able to do it to a 21 year old girl. At 21 I desperately didn’t want to be in a wheelchair any longer than I needed to be and wanted to return to my life as soon as possible, not some life I havn’t been living for over three years. I hated people seeing me in a wheelchair, “this isn’t me” I thought and I didn’t want people to change their opinion on me or treat me differently because of it, especially because I knew I should at least be given the chance to try and start walking again,
Instantly everything in new-timber seemed like a difficult task after the transfer i was so thirsty and asked for a glass of water which the nurses made such a big deal of, did i need my water thickened? after i assured them i didn’t they gave me thickened water anyway which was much like tasteless jelly. i then had to wait for my bed to be cleaned before being moved into a ward with 4 old women who were lovely but not exactly what a 21 year old wants to be surrounded by and next to me in my bed was a 30 year old girl who had jumped off her balcony - this was the biggest hurdle i had faced so far and initiated my first ‘bad day’. generally i am not a selfish person and i feel so awful that i ever thought this but for the first time since the stroke i questioned why it had happened “why me?” i had never done anything bad to my body ok so i have smoked the occasional cigarette and been on the odd alcohol binge probably similar to the majority of students - i don’t even have sugar on my cereal. so why was i laying in a hospital bed next to a girl who had put herself in here saying “i thought it was a good idea”? as soon as i started thinking like this i found it so difficult to stop i began wanting someone to blame or an explanation for what had happened neither of which i could get as of course this is no-ones fault and all of my test results came back normal. i got myself in an awful mood that i just couldn’t snap out of. for the first time since it happened i couldn’t stop crying, my left side wouldn’t do what i told it, my visitors couldn’t make it, which wouldn’t have bothered me generally but i didn’t know how to cheer myself up. I felt so ungrateful, everyone around me was being so strong and supportive for me and i couldn’t even keep a smile on my face. on this “bad day” as i have labelled itmy friend jordanne and her friend sarah who i had only met once previously came to visit me, being able to talk about how i felt was such a relief and something i recommend everyone in a similar situation to do, i had tried,to bottle up my feelings since it had all happened, my anger, upset, happiness had not been portrayed in the right ways at all. because i felt all of these things it was difficult, how can you be so so happy, angry and upset all at the same time? but that was how I felt, angry and upset that this had happened and so happy t that I had such amazing friends and family. my emotions were confusing me and i had no idea how i was supposed to feel! i was also relieved. this could have been so much worse i am expected to make a full recovery at a speedy rate hopefully meaning that i will be home in no time I understood that my physical state could have been so much worse, some people lose their memories, ability to talk and swallow leaving them with that awful thickened water and no way to communicate. I was so thankful that my stroke was no worse than it was and that with time and effort I would learn how to walk again.
A week into my stay and deemed medicaly stable enough to take the next step in my stroke recovery journey i was to be moved to HAYWARDS Heath rehabilitation centre at the princess royal hospital - something that most people saw as a positive as the physiotherapy team are said to be absolutely brilliant and in truth they are. two weeks into my stay and since finally settling in on the lindfield ward I have begun physio on a regular basis and already seeing great improvements my two physios are Jen and Adam a third year physio student completing his final placement. To say he is only a student he has been absolutely amazing and had I not have been told I don’t think I would have had any idea. We are a similar age and he made me feel incredibly at ease during physiotherapy.
Before this however i had a horrendous experience which began with the transfer from sussex county to haywards heath including doris, a terrorist, a lady who needed the toilet, an imaginary dungeon, a wheelchair that didnt belong to anyone and, thickened water.
later everyone at Juice 107.2 would also organise disabled access seating for me to attend a McFly concert (3 weeks to the day of my stroke)at the Brighton Centre with my housemate Megan a night that let me escape temporarily from the four walls of my hospital room and would have me laughing and temporarily back to normality. Exclaiming “we’re very new to this” as megan wheeled me around the corridors and making stroke jokes which may seem a bit sick but when you’re in the situation are often needed. for one night only I was myself again, OK so I was temporarily disabled, McFly and Megan made it not matter, a band that have always cheered me up at the hard times (although granted none as hard of this)
Meg“We should think of an elaborate reason why you’re in a wheel chair!” Me“what? like I had a stroke?” “ no,nobody will believe that, maybe that you ran through a burning building to save a baby and broke your leg?” “hmm….”
i have been interning at Brighton’s Juice 107.2 for over a year now, something that I thoroughly enjoy. I couldn’t believe it when they cameto visit me perhaps a week after my stroke and gave me this get well soon card from a band I have loved since I was 14 (Mcfly). Something Tony Marks believes is my biggest downfall. I’m a fangirl but do I care though? This card is something I will treasure forever.
Thankyou Juice 107.2 and McFly.
Arriving at the solomon ward at Sussex County hospital I instantly felt comfortable the nurses were absolutely incredible and i was quickly given my own side room because of my constant flow of visitors- something that shocked me and became the thing i looked forward to the most.On the days where I felt too tired to entertain visitors I knew that they were key to my recovery and as a young male who was also a stroke victim once told me, never stop friends from visiting they are the people who support you the most and give you the will power to carry on through the easy and hard times.visits from people you care about are so important and will ultimately make the struggle you are going throungh seem that little bit more bearable. With everyone around me making so much effort i was soon reminded of the incredible friends i have.Although in the first week I found it overwhelming, in the state I was in it was difficult to concentrate on big groups of people and to begin with it was a massive effort for me to speak, but this got easier before I even had time to think about it. It is truly amazing though the people who pull their fingers out when you’re in trouble. A group of friends I had known for barely 2 months visited me regularly. They helped cheer me up with silly gifts, poems and bad taste jokes more than they could ever know, my 9 best friends from home travelled from nottingham-brighton to see me within days of me being admitted, unfortunately my memory of this is not clear i was still in shock from what was happening and as far as im aware was still highly inadated with various drugs. my housemates were at my bedside the majority of the time bringing me gifts, surrounding me with the banter I was used too and a best friend who I had not recently seen much of due to both of our hectic lifestyle was soon to be at my bedside holding my hand something that I couldnt have appreciated more,as ive mentioned and if you know me you’ll be well aware that I love a good hand hold - I finally felt safe again with so many people I cared about around me,was everything going to be Ok after all? after apologising for not seeing me for so long I joked that this should be a lesson to him, Shit can happen so we should see each other more. I had new friends and old friends falling over each other to visit me. ‘the best of a bad situation’ is a phrase i kept hearing. It was true, this awful situation I found myself in actually highlighted to me how lucky I was. I’m living a life I truly love with the most incredible people who clearly care about me. A life and friends I had unintentionally been taking for granted. It soon became obvious to me who was worth worrying about. Those that didnt contact me untill weeks into my hospital stay despite beig huge parts of my life were easily overlooked by those who regularly visited, asked friends about me or text me saying things like “how you getting on darling?” - a text from a friend who’s been going through a hard time himself and a message that instantly put a smile on my face, thankyou darling. The simplest of things were able to keep me a very happy gal.
Whilst enjoying my hand holding sesh with one of the megans and exclaiming “only I could walk to work and end up in A&E I had the scariest realisation of my life - still not knowing what had happened i overheard two doctors inconsiderately discussing that i had suffered from a stroke, to which i burst into tears exclaiming to one of my friends “i’ve had a stroke who does that?” At the age of 21 and generally healthy it seemed ridiculous that this could have happened to me, this was something that would be repeated to me on a regular basis by doctors, nurses, friends and other stroke patients. A 66 year old double stroke victim saw me and said “please don’t tell me she’s had a stroke she’s too young it’s not fair,” although this was always meant in a caring way I often found it hard to listen too. if it was so unlikely to happen to people my age then what had I done to deserve having it happen to me? However I have since learnt through friends experiences that children as young as 3 can suffer from strokes and make a full recovery, and when reading survivvor stories on charity ‘different strokes’ website I was touched by a ladies story of surviving a stroke that the doctors believe she had suffered before birth, unbelievable.75% of strokes effect people over 65 but perhaps i wasn’t too young after all. I later counted myself lucky that at 21 I had already been able to live my life, having lived in New Zealand for 7 months, having 2 years at University and finally deciding what career I wanted to pursue I had found myself as a person. I love everything about my life and knew exactly what I had to do to get back to the life I had been so happily leading.Positivity was the only way and with this support how could I not be? As it turns out many doctors believe Positive thinking and determination are key to a quick recovery. If you believe you can do it, in theory you will be able to. Have faith in yourself. This is why my support network were so important to me. They kept me positive reminding me of the progress I was making from week to week, something I easily forgot because of the irritation of being temporarily disabled.
Perhaps strangely I remember most things about my collapse i remember slipping on my right foot maybe even giggling at the fact i fell over, I remember trying to open the police car door, even having my left hand on the door handle and yet it being an impossible task to pull it open. after learning that I had lost the function of my left arm I felt sure that I must have imagined having my hand on the car handle at all. I later learnt that Some brain cells deprived of oxygen die within minutes. Others may take a few hours to die depending on the nature of the blockage or hemorrhage. The braincells that knew how to move my arm may not have died straight away after all.
my muscles however,just didn’t want to work, i was thinking about opening the door and pulling myself up onto the seat but i just couldn’t do it (something i would soon have to get used too) i also remember one of the policemen trying to lift me up but as i couldn’t push up i was just falling all over the place.and where was my apple? i tried searching through my yellow satchel with my left hand but to no avail.
After being asked whether or not i was drunk or on drugs I explained that i was actually on the way to work but no matter how many times i tried to say ‘urban outfitters’ two words that since october have rolled off my tongue with ease on a regular basis would not pronunciate from my mouth eventually i explained that my badge was in my pocket.i genuinely had no idea what had happened i hadn’t even considered that i might have passed out which would have been a much more obvious and less shocking idea but something that would not fit into my ridiculously over dramatic life. In the UK someone suffers from a stroke every 5 minutes and i suppose in those short 5 life-changing minutes I drew the short straw.
Before I knew it a paramedic arrived shortly followed by an ambulance with its sirens screaming, i was then put on a stretcher and had my favorite dress from work cut off me quicker than i had got it on in the morning something that too this day i do not understand the reason for. If it wasn’t for the two police men who helped me the story of my recovery could be much different. The most effective treatment for stroke can be administered if it is within three hours of the onset of stroke. For Many stroke victims the loss of physical functions can be permanent but because of their quick actions mine had a high chance if only being temporary and a few weeks into my hospital stay I was told that I would make a full recovery with a little bit of hard work.As far as i know completely pumped with drugs to break down the clot in my brain that i was blissfully unaware of I asked one of the paramedics to phone my housemates and my mum and it seemed that by the time i arrived at the hospital my family were already there although thinking back that is implausible unless it took me around 6 hours to get from the king and queen to sussex county hospital!
My first recollection of being in the hospital bed was seeing my two favourite megs leaning over me, frightened i instantly grabbed one of their hands using my right hand (i’ve always loved a good hand hold.) I later learnt that for 2 hours whilst I was being treated my housemates had learnt that I had a bleed in my head and feared the worst, they thought I was dead. When I finally came too I became aware of other patients around me and questioned my mum as to why they wouldnt give my bed to someone who needed it? In my naive mind I had just fallen over and cut my knees, so why was I in A&E?
Waking up for work i jump out of bed and pull on my fave urban outfitters dress do my hair and make up and head downstairs to grab an apple for my 40 minute journey. debating wether or not to get a bus i quickly decide against it the sun is almost shining and a bus will cost me £3.80 about 20 minutes into the journey I get a bit peckish and out comes the apple as i take the second bite i collapse, so much for an apple a day keeps the doctors away.
Outside the King & Queen pub, somewhere i attend fairly regularly with my friends i fall straight towards a bin landing on my knees, instantly ripping my only pair of non-laddered tights. not realizing what has just happened to me i grab the top of the bin and poorly attempt to pull my self up with the aid of the bin - disgusting but i was desperate to be on my feet again. Luckily a police car was driving by as i collapsed and PC S Brown x 2 but who ssuprisingly aren’t related stopped to help me calling an ambulance and trying to help me into their police car offering to drive me to work- the second time i would have been in a police car since the beginning of 2011 after i got punched in the face by a stupid barbour jacket wearing fresher boy on the way home from a sick night at the underground rebel bingo club and my friend called the police resulting in me being taken to the station and giving a statement wearing an orange crayola mustache and various obscenities covering my arm.