Having a stroke, blog 3

Gosh I have just realised that I haven’t written anything since mid-July. This might have something to do  with the fact that, about a month ago, I hit a wall with my recovery from a stroke. ‘Hitting a wall’ emotionally is a strange feeling – a mixture of fear and wanting to hide. For about  3 or 4 days I tried to push the feelings away, but unsuccessfully. The fear was mainly about saying out loud that I felt I was going backwards in my physical recovery and that, that would continue.

Luckily I had an appointment with my doctor and was able to tell her how I felt. She explained that my body and my brain were trying to figure things out, which was causing some confusion physically. A few days later I was teaching someone to deepen their meditation practice, and during the course of these couple of days, she told me to get in touch with the lady who has always looked after any back problems I have had in the past. She has been able to use Cranio-Sacral techniques. During the first session she said ‘Oh, your right brain is angry with your left brain.’ This made total sense to me, as my left brain was being quite philosophical about the situation, and my right brain was frustrated and felt frightened because the way that I use my creativity had been hampered by the diminished dexterity of my right hand. It had felt as if the two sides of my brain were speaking to each other.

This is a classical example of living in the solution not the problem. Although my right hand is still wonky and slightly unreliable, at least I understand what is happening to me. Lots of my symptoms are hidden from other people, and I had got to the stage where, if one more person said ‘you are doing really well’ I would have decked them! Needless to say I got to the doctor just in time.

Although I see an NHS doctor, I do pay for the Cranio-Sacral treatments that I have, and I am very aware that not everyone can do that. What I have been given are very simple exercises, for instance; touching my nose with my left and right index fingers with my arms stretched out on either side, lifting one leg up and touching it with the opposite hand. It may be a question of asking your doctor or NHS Physio for these kind of exercises. I have subsequently found out that the symptoms I am experiencing don’t happen until about 6 months or later.

One of the interesting things is I have never been able to write with my left hand, and by accident discovered that I can. However, what I am now doing is still practicing slowly with my right hand, so that I don’t ignore the slow progress I am making with my right hand, but progress it is.

Whenever I feel discouraged I think of the 2 young women; Emma and Rebecca, who saved my life in February, and I keep trying. Their part of the story is for another blog.

Highlights of my overall improvement have been; going to Legoland with my grandchildren, and subsequently taking them to the Fakenham fair – all on my own. There are 3 of them here and the youngest is 2. More outings of this kind tell me that I am definitely getting stronger.


Having a stroke, blog 2

So why was I in agony – I had gone for a short walk the day after I came home, then the next day I went for another and a bit further. That night I was in agony. I was put on some medication immediately and after quite a few days of that medication I was in tears with the pain. Fortunately I had a friend with me and with perseverance I got to speak to a doctor and she said “Stop taking those pills immediately, you are allergic to them”. As if by a miracle the pain stopped. I should have been given more guidance before coming home. Nobody’s fault but you can fall between two stools very easily. Never really understood that expression till now but you can so easily forget to ask the right question and others make their assumptions about you.

Without friends and family, I would have been lost. A dear friend from France came and looked after me for a week. In that time she was like a terrier and moved heaven and earth to get the physio to come and see me. I had been left off the list for goodness knows what reason. The strangest thing is that I am usually good a these kind of situations, teach Assertiveness no less, but I had no “fight” in me whatsoever. I shall probably keep saying that for a while. Without her I would probably never have been seen by the physio.

Using scissors and cutting my first slice of bread was my aim at the time. Figuring how to put a Bra on was next. More about my progress anon. However, today what is foremost in my mind is the gratitude for the story of the two mugs that turned into five! My IPad has been a life saver and I saw there were some mugs for sale and they were lovely. I always need mugs! So I sent off for two. Then to my horror I realised they were going to the old address and emailed the contact number immediately. No worries said the lovely lady and it was sorted. By some blip, they got sent to the old address nonetheless. Another email, the lovely lady said she would send another two mugs, her fault, plus a print of feathers as an apology! I forgot to mention that she had added a mug with feathers on it as I had said it was a shame she hadn’t that mug left but she found one without a box.

In the meantime, my husband had gone to the old house and by a real stroke of luck had managed to get hold of the original parcel. So today I have five mugs which I have paid for with the added bonus of a beautiful print and a delightful coaster. What was I going to do with the extra mugs? Then I remembered the two friends who fetched me from the hospital and have come every week to study and chant with me as part of our Buddhist practice. A mug each feels the least I can do. More than anything gratitude is what gets me through the day. The  mugs are made by a very talented Sarah Travis and she has a great Facebook page. Thank you Sarah too.image

More about the stroke to come …

Having a stroke …

Well where to begin. On 3rd February I had a stroke – never been ill before, no medication, no warning. I was very lucky as I was in London at the time taking the tube to my hotel for the night and all of a sudden I was on the platform wondering what was happening to me. In a period of a few hours I was tucked up in bed in Charing Cross Hospital having discovered I had had a stroke.

Why am I going to blog about this? Perhaps it will help other people and it will certainly help me keep things in perspective. The question I have been asked consistently is “weren’t you frightened?”. The answer is “No”. That thought just didn’t come into my head. Whist I was in hospital they kept me pretty busy and even brushing my teeth was a challenge, funny and took most the morning to start off with. I was very lucky to have two amazing girlfriends look after me whilst there alongside my extraordinary sons;  one literally by my side every day and the other, half way round the world, phoning me every day.

Even when I was transferred to Kings Lynn things were ok. The issues started when I actually came home! I was overwhelmed by the love and support by family, friends and clients BUT I needed a fighter on my side. I didn’t have any fight in me and my experience is it is the moment you leave hospital you have a battle on your hands. That battle probably started just before I came home – a pattern of a life time, I looked weller than I was. Within days of being home I was in agony. A day at a time I haven’t felt a victim and most importantly haven’t lost my sense of humour. You have to hold onto that humour even through the tears and anger …

This is probably a good place to stop and I will post the next blog soon …