I was 48 and working in a bakery as a sandwich maker I would start work at 6am and finish at 2pm and believe it or not, it was a stressful job. I have three sons’ and at that time they were 27, 25 and 15 and my husband worked (still does) with the Police in Scotland at a station just 5 minutes away from my work.
Christmas Eve 2014, I went to work as usual, I let myself in and started prepping my ingredients. I was on my own for the first half hour till the manager came in. Around 6.30am I started to feel a bit odd, nothing I could put my finger on but I had a feeling that something bad was going to happen. I was trying to cut some sandwiches and I couldn’t hold the knife properly, I had no grip. I was beginning to feel generally unwell. Then I couldn’t hold the knife at all and was having real trouble standing up.
I went to the manager and said I felt ill. I was basically told too bad, as it was only the two of us in I would have to get on with it. I waited another 5 minutes and by this time my brain was telling me I was having a stroke, but I was telling myself don’t be daft. I went downstairs to where the office and staff room were, I don’t remember anything else.
I woke up in Resus at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. My husband tells me I phoned his mobile as he was on his way to start a day shift. He couldn’t understand a word I was saying, I was speaking complete gobbledegook. He knew straight away what was wrong. He came straight to my work and put me in the car and drove to the hospital about 6 miles away.
I remember being told I had had a stroke and we needed to decide if I was to have thrombolysis. It was explained there was a 1 in 4 chance it could make things worse or even fatal, we decided to go for it. I was admitted to the Acute Stroke Unit where I stayed for a week, I remember very little of that week. I had CT scans and was told I had most likely had a clot in my neck that caused the stroke. I couldn’t speak, I couldn’t use my left arm or leg, I seemed to be forever wetting the bed and the staff having to change it. The frustration of being sat in a chair with the call button that is just out of reach!
Later, I was moved to the Young Persons Stroke Rehabilitation Unit at Astley Ainsley Hospital. I was the youngest by about 30 years, no joke!! I spent a couple of months there. Having intensive physio, OT, speech, and language therapy. I was sent home able to speak, able to walk using a rollator inside and a wheelchair outside.
At home, I continued to have physio as an outpatient for 12 weeks then it stopped. My bedroom is upstairs so I have a commode for toilet purposes. During this time, I had to attend numerous meetings for work, eventually I was paid off after 13 months.
Today my speech is generally okay. I still forget what things are called from time to time and I slur my words when tired. I can’t walk unaided and I use 2 sticks inside and either the rollator or my wheelchair outside, depending on how far I must go. My left side is still weak and I need some assistance washing and dressing. I can do most things like making tea and toast etc, it just takes a bit longer than before. I spend a lot of time on my own as my husband works shifts with the Police, they have been excellent with him allowing him time off for my various appointments.
At first, I wasn’t happy in my own company at all. I’m now quite ok with it. I have learnt to crochet by watching YouTube videos. I even sell my crocheted baby things now. I still go on holiday to my beloved Pefkos on Rhodes It takes a lot of organising but I feel safe there and know it inside out.
I’m not too fussed about trying to get back into any kind of work. I don’t know what I would be able to do anyway and I’m much more relaxed about money matters. Before, I would worry and was always doing overtime. Now, we are doing fine with my husband’s wage and my PIP and ESA.
I was told about Different Strokes by the Community Stroke Nurse who visited me at home every couple of weeks or so. I got a pack in the post which was absolutely fantastic. The Facebook Group is amazing. There is massive support on there. If I had any questions there was always someone who could advise. And I’ve even been able to give advice as well.
I would say to someone who has recently had a stroke DO NOT LOSE HOPE. You only get out of physio, OT etc what you put into it. Be prepared to work hard at getting your strength and anything else you have lost back.