“Then: It was a Friday afternoon in March 2014. I was 35 years old, overweight, but otherwise relatively healthy, or so I thought! One Friday afternoon, I had just been out on my lunch hour, and on my return to the office my mouth started to droop to the left. I was eating a chocolate bar that contained peanuts and was worried I had an undiagnosed peanut allergy. My manager asked me to call someone to invite them into a meeting. He noticed I was slurring and asked if I’d been to the dentist. Partway through the meeting, my manager recognised the signs of stroke and called an ambulance.
I continued to write in my notebook, shouting that “I’m checking if my brain still works!” – I was trying to convince myself that everything was fine, but my main concern was whether I’d be well enough to make it to the pub for post-work drinks with colleagues that evening. Little did I know I would never return to the house I was living again…
The next thing I remember is throwing up in an ambulance. I was rushed to Salford Royal. My stroke was due to a bleed caused by high blood pressure passing through a cavernoma in my brain, making it burst. My stroke wasn’t resolving itself, so my family had to make the decision as to whether to risk brain surgery or not. Thankfully they decided to risk it, and because of that, here I am, still fighting, nearly four years later!
I spent the next six months on hospital and rehab wards, battling with pneumonia at one point and being unable to walk, speak, eat or, frustratingly, drink. Indeed, the first message I communicated to my wife (in writing) was “I can’t have a f***ing drink, can I?” I learned a whole new vocabulary in hospital, with “stats” “NG tube”,” cannula” and “suction” becoming unwelcome guests in my daily discourse. The removal of a cannula, catheter or tracheostomy tube would become a cause for celebration.
Come September, I was finally discharged, still unable to walk or get any functional use from my left limbs – and “home” was another unknown quantity, as we’d been in the process of moving (to a three-storey house) at the time of my stroke!
Three and a half years on, my recovery is still ongoing, but the support of my amazing wife, family and friends has been invaluable. Reading other survivors’ stories on the Different Strokes Facebook page has been a real inspiration to me. With so many stroke support services and charities being geared towards the elderly, it’s great to know that there’s a charity supporting the (sadly) ever-growing number of working-age stroke survivors out there.
Before I end, I’ll bring my story up to date. We moved to a new house again and to a much more suitable ground-floor flat. I am still in a wheelchair, but never say never! Two months ago, I finally returned to my job as a copywriter (after trying to get back for two years!). Last year my wife and I held a fundraising 90s party night to raise funds for Different Strokes to help them carry on their great work with younger stroke survivors.”
This Christmas we want to raise awareness that stroke can happen at any age, we also want to share the impact that sharing experiences has on the lives of younger stroke survivors and their families. We provide services that put people in contact to share these experiences reducing isolation and benefiting all parties. Now we need your help! 2018 will be a big year for Different Strokes, as we embark on new projects to provide specialist support and resources for specific ages. We are also aiming to increase the number of local support groups around the country.
What can we raise in 12 days to support this work?
If you can donate this Christmas your gift will be part of something special, something transformational, something life changing to enable a younger stroke survivors and their family members to reclaim their lives.
We know this time of year puts a lot of pressure on everyone financially and if you are unable to help in this way then please help us by sharing our campaign on social media:
2017-12-15T00:51:56+00:00 December 15th, 2017|Comments Off on Paul’s Story