by Stephen Taylor
Stephen Taylor is 44, had two strokes in 2014 and 2015, and has decided to leave it at that. He spent years as a carer for disabled people, as an acrobat and as a hanger on in the music industry. He is now retired on grounds of ill behavior.
There was a fire? He watched that shitty movie? The depths of this man’s suffering… No, there’s a million tiny things that change. I can’t sing in tune, tell a properly timed joke, or juggle any more. This is (as I understand it) more common stuff that I would never have expected to encounter following a stroke.
A new sort of bone-tiredness which make the fact that you might be breathless, knackered and overwhelmed even more of a challenge. I’ve had it explained to me that it’s a feature of your brain healing (you brain uses about 20% of your body’s energy on an ordinary day) which gives me hope that it won’t last forever. Some people lose it in weeks or months, sometimes it last for much longer. Try to minimize its effect by getting enough sleep, exercise and pacing yourself when you’re busy.
Nope, me either. Lability is emotional instability, which can make itself known in some incredibly annoying ways. On top of any anxiety, depression, or insecurity you might be feeling, you might well find yourself crying at the sight of a bendy-bus or the beak of a particularly fetching duck. I have blubbed at (in no particular order) a Bisto advert, Kung Fu Panda 2 and a fabulously well-designed Chinese take-away menu. But there’s more. People also notice that their sense of humor might also take a turn for the inappropriate. I recently caught myself giggling about a kazoo at a funeral.
I know, sorry. About 10 years ago a friend’s dad gave me a piece of advice after he’d had his prostate removed. Pelvic floor exercises, he assured me, were the way forward. I, of course, squirmed and did nothing about it. There’s lots you can do to improve the situation, ask your therapist or GP. But until then it’s a brilliant gift to be able to laugh about this stuff. And do pelvic floor exercises. Please.
Just like that the rug’s pulled out from under you. You’re mourning your former life and have nothing but time to do it in. Is it any wonder you might be a bit grumpier than usual? You can put a lot of changes to you usually sunny disposition down to fatigue, anxiety, and frustration. Time, deep breaths and talking talking talking about it all help. If, when the dust settles you find you’re still much angrier, more inappropriate, or aggressive talk to your GP. Talking therapies or even medication might help you and those around you.
Attention and concentr…
I haven’t watched a movie in one continuous chunk since my second stroke. Some medical studies have suggested that half of stroke survivors could have some sort of attention problem (I’m getting tired and distracted now, I just typed stoke survivors, no one survives Stoke). There have been trials with the same sort of brain training software that people say cures everything, but I’m not convinced yet.