Updated: October 2020
The stroke affected my left side. Immediately afterwards, I was unable to use my arm or leg – imagine having to ring a bell so somebody can come and take you to the toilet! As I understood the stroke more, the main effects are with my hand and foot. In hospital, I worked with physiotherapists on my leg, and was able to take a few steps. Very little attention was paid to my arm.
The attention to my leg must have sparked something, and five years later I manage to walk quite well, although I can look quite doddery, and my balance is not good. My bad foot tends to “drop”, which can trip me up. If I fall over, I need help getting up again.
My stroke (or my diabetes) also affected my eyesight, although how much is hard to say. I had laser surgery, but I think this made things worse. My vision hit a low-point immediately after the stroke, but gradually improved afterwards, although the damage caused by diabetes/treatment is permanent. Now that my diabetes is better-controlled, I think my vision has stopped declining.
Shortly after the stroke, I might find myself in tears at the silliest of things. The best way I have found to describe this is like a jelly. It starts off very mushy and gradually hardens and sets. That process took a couple of years, for me, although I feel “back to normal” now.
I know that fatigue can cause people to spend all day in bed, and consider myself lucky that fatigue does not cause me to write whole days off.
To people who’ve never experienced fatigue, it is difficult to describe. To feel exhausted walking into the next room… This feeling has never gone away, although obviously my movement has improved since the stroke. Everything feels like it requires total effort – there is no such thing as a stroll any more.
For example, 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, the distances between breaks has become longer, and the time taken for each break has become shorter.
A common affect of stroke is aphasia, difficulty with 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 is 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. Having said that, I sometimes publish mistakes but I correct them when I see them.
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.
Here, three things come into play.
- eyesight. Although I have been told that my eyesight is good enough to drive, I am worried because it is certainly not perfect.
- arm. I would probably need a modified car,
- finances. I am unwilling to spend on a modified car until I am earning again.
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.