Last Reviewed: April 2022
My 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 six years since the stroke, my walking has gradually improved, although my overall balance is still not good and I run out of steam very quickly. Key effects are with my hand and foot, both of which are effectively paralysed. My foot tends also to drop, which makes me prone to tripping. If I do fall over, I need lever myself up again using e.g. furniture.
My stroke (and/or diabetes) also affected my eyesight. Laser surgery also made my vision poorer. My vision was at its worst immediately after the stroke, but gradually improved (possibly as a result of better diabetes control), however it is left permanently damaged.
I have known fatigue-sufferers to lose the entire day. It does not affect me that badly, so in that regard, I am lucky. Instead I can walk (even just through to the next room) and feel breathless.
There is no general understanding of what fatigue entails, and people often equate it with “feeling tired”. Fatigue is feeling exhausted, just walking into the kitchen. Feeling too exhausted to make a cup of tea. Both of these have happened to me.
Although my stamina has improved, this feeling has never gone away. It is a constant feeling of breathlessness when taking any exercise.
A “trick” I learned with fatigue was that I was able to stop, take a break, then continue walking. Over time, 10m became 20m, and so on. By taking the necessary breaks, I can aggregate to cover larger distances. Over time, the frequency of the breaks has decreased, and the time taken for each break has decreased.
Balance, however, is still an issue.
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.
I suffer from anxiety, however, which did not affect me previously. 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.
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, but I am a very literate person so I’m confident that nobody else does.
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.