My Stroke Injuries

Last Reviewed: October 2021

The stroke affected my left side. Immediately afterwards, I was unable to use my arm, or to walk. I needed to be taken to the toilet by nurses, even. I worked with physiotherapists on my leg, and by the time I left hospital was able to take a few steps around my bed. Very little attention was paid to my arm.

In more than five years since the stroke, my walking has gradually improved, although my overall balance is still not good. As I have come to understand the stroke more, the main effects are with my hand and foot, both of which are effectively paralysed. My foot tends to drop, which in turn can trip me up if it sticks on the ground. If I do fall over, I need help getting up again.

Vision

My stroke (and/or diabetes) also affected my eyesight, although how badly is hard to say. I have had laser surgery, which also made my vision poorer. My vision seemed to be at its worst immediately after the stroke, but gradually improved (possibly as a result of better diabetes control), however it is left permanently damaged.

Fatigue

I have known fatigue-sufferers to lose the entire day. It does not affect me that badly, so in that regard, I am lucky.

I have found very little empathy, there is no general understanding of what fatigue entails, and people often equate it with “feeling tired”. Fatigue is feeling exhausted walking into the next room. It is going into the kitchen, then feeling too exhausted to make a cup of tea. Both of these have happened to me.

This feeling has never gone away, although obviously my stamina has improved and I am quicker. But everything still feels like it requires total effort – there is no such thing as a stroll any more.

Immediately after the stroke, I could walk less than ten yards/metres, and it took almost a year before I could walk to my local bus-stop, a half-mile (700m) away.

A “trick” I learned with fatigue was that I was able to stop, take a break, then continue walking. Over time, 10m became 20m, became (over several years) a mile. Just by taking the necessary breaks. Over time, the frequency of the breaks has decreased, and the time taken for each break has decreased.

Mental

Shortly after the stroke, I might find myself in tears at the silliest of things. I describe this as a jelly. It started off very mushy and gradually hardened and set. That process took a couple of years for me.

Even now, though, I suffer from anxiety, where I did not before. At 5½ years post-stroke, I undertook a long journey on my own, and the anxiety I suffered surprised even me. I could see it happening, but could not do anything about it. The most worrying aspect of this is that it raises questions over future trips.

Aphasia

A common affect of stroke is aphasia, difficulty with speech and communication. I talk about that in the blog, and have worked with people who suffer from aphasia.

I’m lucky because it has never been an obstacle for me – I notice a slight slowdown in my communication process, but I am a very literate person so I’m confident that nobody else does.

In terms of general communication, I am an IT expert and have been typing for many years. In addition, my spelling and grammar are very good. I now type one-handed, which is slower, and I am prone to typos, which is infuriating. I have become a better editor as a result.

I was/am left-handed. Because the stroke affected my left side, my handwriting has been affected, although I have been surprised how little I rely on writing in everyday life. A lot of communication is via keyboard, where nobody can tell the difference. Having to use my once-weaker hand for e.g. slicing a piece of bread is frustrating, but I muddle along. I’ve accumulated several gadgets, especially in the kitchen, which enable me to function almost at my pre-stroke levels.

Driving

Here, three things come into play.

  1. eyesight. Although I have been told that my eyesight is good enough to drive, I am worried because it is certainly not perfect.
  2. arm. I would probably need a modified car,
  3. finances. I am unwilling to spend on a modified car until I am earning again.
Summary

I came home in a very fragile state, but I was still shy of fifty, so didn’t think there was any age-related reason that I couldn’t recover some functionality. And that’s how it has worked out. My walking is stronger. I even found a spark of movement in my hand, although my hand is not usable. I’ve given up on miracles, but I think I will see gradual improvements over time.

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