There are a couple of causes of stroke. One of them (less common) is where a nearby blood vessel bursts, and bleeds onto your brain. The other is where a blood clot develops somewhere in your body, and travels up to your brain. When the clot travels to your heart instead, it’s a heart attack. I’d recognise the names if I saw them, but they aren’t something I ever committed to memory. Greek, of course.

Both of these causes have the same direct result. They prevent fresh blood (complete with oxygen) from getting to your brain, and a part of the brain dies off. A stroke. So the cause doesn’t really matter, except academically. The effect is the same. In addition, the immediate treatments (if you’re lucky enough to get any) are totally different. The exact opposite, in fact.

One of the things that amuses me is that this is text book stuff. People from the Stroke Association, for example, will display their academic knowledge of stroke by talking about the different causes. It always tickled me, because after a stroke, to the patient it doesn’t really matter. It’s academic. Whereabouts the stroke hit matters, because that dictates how you’re affected.Even then it isn’t as clearcut as non-sufferers might have you think.

I remember one woman looking at me in disbelief when she asked what type of stroke I’d had, and I responded “dunno”. Actually, I knew full well, believe me I am an expert in my own health these days. (My unremarkability was confirmed by the stroke – I had the most common type of stroke and the most common type of injuries!) But I wanted to make the point that it was irrelevant.

I think a lot of it is to use the terms the clinicians use, to give the illusion of comprehension. There are several terms like that, related to stroke. I feel that they introduce an artificial language barrier, but charities like to use them anyway. In fact I fell out with a woman once on this exact subject. i commented that I disliked the use of these words. She responded by saying why they were used. I said I understood exactly why they were used, but that I disliked it anyway. In fact, this woman rubbed me up the wrong way, and I can see both sides – whilst they do insert a barrier, they are both universal and unambiguous, at least when they’re used in a context which requires clarity. Between clinicians, say. When charities use the words, they have no such requirements.