Posts Tagged: stroke


OK I definitely didn’t but I couldn’t resist a little Busted reference and I did go on a tour around Terminal 2A which is currently being constructed… so that’s basically the same right? 

Just before Christmas my incredible friend and designer of the ‘Superstar’ jewellery range Jordanne Cliffe told me that her Dad had put Different Strokes forward to be one of the charities at Hetco, the company he works for’s Christmas Raffle. DS were accepted along with a local charity for disabled children. Then, In January, Jordanne sent me a message to say that the company had raised around £2000 for the charity and that they wanted me and Jordanne to collect the cheque to give to Different Strokes. On Feb 25th we were presented with the cheque, had a tour around the construction site and watched a few planes taking off. All in all it was an interesting way to spend a monday morning and I was very greatful on behalf of DS for the money they had raised and I know that the money will mean so much to everyone involved with the charity. 

The best (or worst ;) ) thing about the day was that when we were taking our safety gear off we went into a room where a boy, Simon, was sat working. When Jordannes dad came in Simon asked what was going on and he explained that we were there for the charity and that I’d had a stroke when I was 21. Simon’s reply was ‘I had a stroke when I was 17’ I was genuinely shocked, although I know a few people, I’ve never coincidently met someone my age(ish) who it had happened too. We chatted for a bit and he mentioned that he had met Sarah, ‘the girl from the undateables’ at a Connect meeting the week before which just seemed ridiculous, maybe I do know everyone who has had a stroke after all? Paha…

Anyway we swapped numbers and as it was my two year ‘celebration’ coming up Simon suggested the we got together with Sarah and Jordanne in London at the weekend, we went for dinner and drinks at Tottenham Court Rd and then to Covent Garden for a comedy show which was strange but fun, It was a very lovely way to look at the positives of what I’ve been through and think about all the great things that have come from it, especially all the new people I have met and continue to meet. 



I can’t believe how fast 2013 is going, It’s february 26th already and tomorrow it will be two years since my stroke. At times it feels like it has flown by and at others it feels like it was forever ago. So much has happened between then and now. I’ve gone from not being able to sit up or smile, to going to the gym 3 times a week and having my smile back, Not that I didnt have plenty to smile about when it happened, strangely I did. I just physically couldn’t. 

I went from not knowing if or when I would be able to travel or finish uni to less than two years later - graduating with a first and ‘backpacking’ (dragging a suitcase) around Thailand and FINALLY I will be starting a new job as a marketing assistant on March 4th. With a training evening tomorrow, what better way to look to the future instead of the past on my stroke anniversary? 

There was a time last year that I worried if staying in Brighton was the right choice for me, I hardly knew anyone and was starting to feel lonely, re-finding my confidence has meant that over the last 6 months I have started to meet lots of new people, am constantly busy and can’t imagine leaving this city for quite some time.

Having a stroke is life changing and in many ways devastating  but that isn’t to say that there isn’t a life after stroke, you might have to do things a little differently and your journey might take a different route than you had expected but you can and will get there. It’s hard work, it’s tiring and it will have its massive highs and huge lows… Just take each day at a time, embrace any new doors it may open and don’t listen to any negativity. Had I listened to my negative drs/physios/occupational therapists then I would have never walked again, been how I was at 3 months for the rest of my life, slept through the whole of glastonbury festival and never have graduated without getting an electric wheelchair. I dread to think what they would have said about my trip to Thailand! Keep on keeping on and find a team of proffessionals who will push you not hold you back…



Never take anything for granted…


When I was in hospital my brothers hamsters had babies - lots of them. Probably like most girls I am a sucker for something cute and flufy and I desperately wanted one for when I moved back into my house. My brother gave me this little fella who I quickly named Porkchop and began to love with all my heart.


He basically became by stroke buddy and flat mate, I’d play with him most nights and he became a very friendly little man :) I joked with my brother that he had given me a dud hamster as it seemed every month or so he had to go to the vet. The first time he had a hugeee growth coming out of his mouth which made me cry my eyes out, he had a little operation and the vet said to keep an eye incase it came back, It never did but he had plenty of other things up his sleeve to scare me with, scabs on his tummy, and most recently, conjunctivitis. Unfortunately Porkchop’s treatment for conjunctivitis would be his last trip to the vets. 

On Friday night I came home from my friends house and got him out to play but he wasn’t his usual chirpy self. In fact, he was hardly moving. He couldn’t walk and kept rolling onto his right side whenever her tried. I started crying. Alot. I rang my friend Emily who told me to ring the emergency vet. When I did what the vet told me didn’t really suprise me. I’d noticed that he could use one side of his body and not the other, when I described his state to the vet he said ‘it sounds like he might have had a stroke  you can bring him in if you like, its £100 for a consultation plus any treatment he might need’ I asked what they could do for him if it was a stroke and they said because of his age they would probably put him down so if he didnt seem to be in any pain the best thing to do would be keep him warm and check on him in the morning - he would either survive or he wouldn’t. I managed to fall asleep and hoped that in the morning he’d be running on his wheel but when I checked on him it was clear that he had passed.

I’m really sad that he is no longer here and have buried him in a plant pot in my garden. I guess I can take comfort in knowing that when I had my stroke I didn’t know what was happening and didn’t feel any pain so hopefully it was the same for him… Rest In Piece Porkchop.


Since my stroke I have been lucky enough to meet some truly incredible people who have not only become friends but who have helped me through my recovery. Ive wrote about the Scott family before, I began talking to Joanie Scott on facebook through a charity called Different Strokes, I soon also began talking to her daughter Sarah. Both have had strokes caused by a PFO like mine. The Stroke Association then gave us all tickets to the Queens Diamond Jubilee concert where we got to meet for the first time and we’ve been in touch ever since. Sarah, for those who don’t already know, had her stroke when she was 18 and now has aphasia which means she has difficulty communicating. You can find out more about aphasia here 

Sarah was one of the 3 people on the first episode of Channel 4’s series 2 of The Undateables. She was fantastic and you can watch it online by following this link 

Lots of people have asked me what I think of the programme title, as some of you will probably have seen on my facebook it is something I could talk about forever and i’m VERY opinionated about. So here goes…

The title ‘The Undateables’ is of course, controversial. It is sensationalised to raise eyebrows, to shock and to get people talking about it. I do not doubt that Betty TV had a full understanding of the heads they would turn and the criticism it would receive for seemingly calling disabled people ‘undateable’. They perhaps also, unlike many people who take to twitter and facebook to call Channel 4 a ‘disgrace’, are probably very educated in the fact that our soceity does view people with disabilities as ‘undateable’ wether we like it or not. In 2008 an Observer poll found that 70% of people would not consider having sex with a ‘physically disabled person’ If that doesnt already scream ‘undateable’ at you then consider this next fact: a mere 4% of people said that they had previously slept with someone with a disability.

Knowing these facts alone makes me believe there is a need for a programme like the undateables and if people could look past the name they would see a programme that is caring, considerate and confidence boosting to those who take part. If viewers watch with a narrow mind of course the purpose of the programme seems to change, people make jokes and tweet comments like ‘i still would’ but with an open mind it shows that dating with a disability is just as sweet, exciting, awkward, heart-warming or heart-breaking as dating without one. Like with any dates there are awkward silences to fill, the possibility of being stood up and the thrill of getting carried away with infatuation, wether the participants find love or not I can see from following on Twitter (@SarahBScotty @Hadyn_Clark @ChasingShadowsUK & @Sam_Culpeck that their lives have changed for the better since the show, more confident, happy and with Sarah it has even helped with her recovery. 

I really commend Betty TV and Channel 4 for being brave enough to produce a programme on a seemingly taboo subject and for doing it with such a sensitivity that the ‘undateables’ do not feel like the pitiable victims of sensationalised media that many people who have never seen the show assume that they are. There is no perfect way to represent disabilities on television (I spent my final academic year trying to figure that out for my dissertation) but I for one, don’t think The Undateables is a bad way to go…


Just over a year ago I spoke at The Stroke Associations event ‘A Night with Nick’ it was a very overwhelming night for me and I was lucky enough to have some great support from some of the celebrities there, particularly Jay Camilleri, Gemma and Arg from TOWIE and Cheska from Made in Chelsea. Last night I attended the made in Chelsea wrap party and when I bumped into cheska in the toilet I said hello and said where I had met her, ‘you’re the girl that spoke, you were amazing’ and I said thankyou for making the night a bit easier for me. After I said bye I realised that as she remembered me I must have made an impact on her and hopefully the rest of the room. It’s great to know every little bit thats done helps to raise awareness for all young stroke survivors!


If I dare say so myself, I reckon I’d make quite a cute alien #mri #brain #stroke


Old people on buses. I’m going to have a little bit of a rant because to be quite honest I am about fed up of old people treating me like I’m some kind of inconsiderate scum bag on the bus. Earlier today I caught the bus to hospital so I could collect a copy of my MRI scan, on the way back I got on a bus using my disabled bus pass and the driver pulled off before I had sat down, usually I wouldn’t sit on the priority seats but when the drivers pull off its not safe for me to walk down the bus so I sit wherever I’m closest too. I often get looks but will ALWAYS offer my seat to anyone who needs it more than I do. On this occasion an old man sat next to me, after about 5 minutes of him looking me up and down I looked back at him. “Are you disabled?” He said ‘Yes’ I replied although I have to admit I don’t really see myself as disabled, legally, I am classed as disabled. “Why” I asked him and he just pointed at the sign. “I’m recovering from a stroke so I am entitled to sit her thank you very much’ I could see the questioning look on his face and felt like screaming “yes I’m young, no strokes don’t only happen to old people” but I shouldn’t have to explain myself. I wanted to talk about this because its not the first time it’s happened from an old person and I don’t understand why they have to poke their nose in, fair enough if there was somebody else who evidently needed the seat but there wasn’t so what difference did it make to him? He was sat down. If anyone worse than me needed the seat they would have asked or I would have offered. I hate having to explain myself because my disability isn’t obvious and the annoying thing is if I was to be ignorant, he didn’t look disabled either he just looked old so I wonder what would have happened if I’d asked him the same thing…


So this is my very belated post about Thailand. I’ve been so manic I genuinely haven’t had time to write it up and now I don’t know where to start. This is probably going to be  pretty long…

Getting there…

We flew with Jet airways an Indian airline from Heathrow. We had booked special assistance as I still struggle with distances. At heathrow it was fine, we got a wheelchair went through security and then Sarah took over with the pushing so we could get breakfast and look around the shops! How weird would it have been with a special assistance guy waiting for us to eat? The flight itself was absolutely fine, I took half an aspirin before we boarded and wore flight socks, even though my dr said an aspirin wouldn’t change anything it was something that made me feel safer. We stopped off in Bombay on the way there and not only was it the most unorganised, worst smelling, manic airport the special assistance was also awful but I’ll go into more detail at the end of this post about the way back where airport staff made me cry. When we finally got to Bangkok again the assistance was like England and we had a cute little thaiman that me and Sarah instantly fell in love with.

Heat exhaustion?

We got a taxi to our hotel which was the perfect location - just off khoa San road. We had a great time in Bangkok, shopping, eating, sightseeing and drinking. We got tuk tuks around the city to see all the sights and on Khoa San road we had our first bucket which turned into a very messy night and a very bad hangover - the drunkest I had been since being ill. We then left on a night bus to ko Samui to meet Lis and Megan. The bus was a nightmare , I only slept for about an hour, we were both in hangover hell and when we had to get on a boat to the island we didn’t have any water or sun cream which meant we got sun burnt and embarrasingly, less than an hour into the crossing I started to be sick. I had heat exhaustion and it carried on until the next day. I hardly got to see any of Ko Samui but I learnt my lesson, drink plenty of water and wear suncream!

Full moon party!

Now we were with the girls we went to koh Phagnan for the Full moon party! Initially I was worried that it would be very manic and over rated - a bit like new years eve but I had the most incredible night. It was after this beach party that I realised how care free I felt. For the first time in 18 months I wasn’t worried about anything. Perhaps seems weird being in a different country and feeling like that but I was just having an amazing time with my friends and I was relaxed. We rented a jeep on this island and went chasing waterfalls, they were all dried up so in the wise words of TLC i would suggest ‘Don’t go chasing waterfalls’


From Koh Phagnan we went to Ko Tao  we instantly fell in love with this island, we sunbathed on the beach and swam in the sea, Lis went on a scuba diving course with her dad who flew over and we decided to do a day trip snorkelling. When we booked it, I said to the girls, ‘I don’t know if i’ll be able to snorkel but if not I’ll just sit on the boat’ I had no idea that snorkelling would end up being the easiest part. When we arrived at the boat the only way to get on it was by stepping down the side of a wall onto a tyre that was hanging from it and floating around in the sea and step onto the boat as the boat hit the tyre. I was watching all these fully able people get on the boat and knew there was no way I could manage it safely. I had just decided to go back to the hostel when a thai man said ‘no no we’ll get you on’ I was a bit sceptical but figured why not but when they put me on the back of a pick up truck i didnt know wether I should laugh or cry. They drove it to the edge of the pavement where the drop down to the boat was and lowered the back of the truck, (i should mention the boat had a roof) before I knew it the boat bashed into the truck and I was stepping onto the boat into the arms of two thai man who dragged me across the boat to a hole with a ladder to climb down, as I got to the steps a boy who we had met on the beach and been with on way there was making his way up to see if I needed any help, it was very nice to know that someone I barely knew was so willing to help me out, these boys would quickly become our island buddies, one of them would soon tell me i was the most impressive person they’d ever met, it felt amazing for someone to say something so kind and to know that they meant it. When it came to snorkelling it was suprisingly easy, of course I wore a life jacket (im not stupid) and Megan stayed with me practically the whole time. We had lots of fun and saw lots of pretty fish and I felt incredible. I know I wouldnt have been able to do this if I hadn’t asked and asked and asked my physios to get me back in the pool and I am incredibly proud of myself for always fighting for what I think is right for me on my road to recovery.

Koh Tao - Krabi

After a week in Koh Tao Me and Sarah left the girls to go across to Phi Phi, we decided to break the journey up with 2 nights in Krabi so we could go elephant trekking which was absolutely amazing! Getting on and off the elephant was petrifying but with a lot of help I managed it and even got to sit on the elephants back! 

Party Island Phi Phi

 After Krabi we left to Phi Phi, we expected it to be a chilled island much like koh tao but how wrong we were! It was the sort of place where if you werent drinking you were the odd one out (we got called weird for having a sprite instead of a bucket) and although it was heaps of fun when we did go out, it also meant that we slept all day. We found the ‘Reggae bar’ there which we went to almost every night, they had thai boxing and sarah ended up in the ring, she had a split lip and a black eye and I have a very hilairious video to prove it, poor gal! It was on this island that I experienced being hit around the head for the first time since my stroke and it couldnt have happened to a worse person. I had been drinking a bit and had gone to sit on some seats next to a thai girl. In my drunken hayze  I had forgotten that thai’s find feet offensive and put my feet on an empty seat next to me, unfortunately pointing at the thai girl. Next thing I knew I was covered in beer and jumped to my feet to immediately apologies but also to leave as she had become quite agressive, as I turned around something hit my head, I still don’t know what it was but I know it came from her as she quickly got carried away by a member of staff. Mean while I started crying and a guy I had met earlier came over to check I was OK. I wasn’t. I was freaking out. I had a huge lump developing on my head and in my drunken state became quite histerical. This guy picked me up and took me back to my hostel, helping me calm down, breathe properly and stop crying. I will always be thankful that he didnt just leave me, again an almost stranger went the extra mile to make sure I was OK and although I will always be mortified he was my thailand hero. Luckily my physio turned friend from Hospital, Adam was also on hand via whatsapp to tell me to calm down and it was him that I believed I was being silly to freak out. When I woke up the next day I knew I had over reacted but I was genuinely terrified that something was going to happen and I knew that thailand wouldn’t be a great place to get into any ill-health.

I have hundreds of other stories I could tell, many about near death experiences, but these are the ones that stand out to me, I’ll finish with the story about the flight home… 

We were devastated to be leaving and I personally could have spent at least twice as long in Thailand but we boarded the flight and prepared to come home. The food was disgusting but the flight was OK until we had to swap again in India, New Dehli this time. We had a bit longer to get through security and even had time to get a dominos (hurrah!) As we went through security I began to notice a lot of people looking at me - nothing im not used to, especially when using special assistance wheelchairs but what really annoyed me was at the passport check infront of the rest of the passengers the guy said ‘Whats wrong with you?’. ‘I dont have to tell you that’ I replied. I was annoyed as you don’t have to disclose why you need a wheelchair and certainly not infront of a plane full of strangers, they eventually dropped it and let us through after looking at sarahs passport and being confused as to why I didnt look like her…nightmare. When we had to get our bags scanned the woman said ‘give me your hand’ ‘no’ perhaps I was was already aggitated but the last thing I wanted was some woman grabbing my partially paralysed hand. I had honestly never felt more like I was in a zoo in my life. Maybe I over reacted but I cant have been the only person to have ever passed through airport in a wheelchair. I can tell you one thing though, I now have no desire to visit the country. 

All in all I had a fantastic time and came back feeling very relaxed, I met some lovely people and realised that for most, what i’m going through wasn’t an issue or a reason for a cheap joke. My confidence soared and I am so excited to start planning my next trip. I’m very thankful for Sarah, Megan and Lis for being such amazing friends throughout Uni and continuing to be when my life took a different path to theirs. I couldnt have done everything I did without them and Im also so thankful to everyone i met that helped me out from words of encouragement to carrying me home from the beach. 

& thats it. Thailand 2012 essay.


Nice to meet you

Jessie J has an autobiography coming out next week and today the daily mail online posted an extract from it. It just happened to be the bit where she talks about her health. I can’t even remember the last time I cried about my stroke but this made me sob. Brings back some scary memories! Can’t wait to see her in February, 2 years to the day of it happening…coinkidink!