Life After Stroke: One Year On
25 July 2015
It's been a year since I had my stroke! One Year! Where has the time gone. Every 3 months since my stroke I've always wrote a little update about how life is. Well, you don't usually get a post from me on a Saturday but I really wanted to post on the exact one year mark since my stroke so that's why this post is going up on 25th July, at 8pm. I have no idea how long this post is going to be, and I only roughly know what I'm planning to talk about, but I'm just going to type, from the heart, and from a nearly fully functioning brain.
One Year ago today life changed for ever. But not in one of those cheesy, dramatic ways, in one of those practical, wow, ways. There's a difference. You see, life changes all the time, when you realise chocolate cake isn't actually that good for you and you'll have to cut down (this was a milestone in my life) or when the coffee shop's out of espresso (that's a day I slept my way through and won't get back). After a stroke, life is very different, mentally, physically and emotionally. It's when something affects all three of these things, that's really a moment life changes - in a so not chessy way.
Physically life is back to normal. I'm training for the York 10K race to raise money for the Stroke Association. I didn't run at all before my stroke, so you could say in some ways my fitness is better now than it ever has been. I was known at school for my hatred of sport, so this is a big deal for me. I'm nervous, but in all honesty I cannot wait. To think where I was a year ago, wow, how life is different. I'll be honest, there were times lying in that hospital bed I was thinking 'I'll soon wake up from this nightmare'. Well, it still feels like a dream, but less of nightmare. I honestly believe that this year has made me a better person. From the medical point of view, I'm completely discharged from physiotherapy, and occupational therapy and hand therapy and speech therapy! The speech is improving daily. I forget my words only a small amount of time now, mainly towards the end of the day when I'm getting tired. I loose the thread of conversations quite a lot but I know it's going to get easier, so I'm not worried.
In hospital, one year ago, I felt like the physical effects were hitting me the hardest. But the mental effects were always underlying. Mentally, things are still on their way. Way to what I'm not sure - 100% what they were before, is that possible? I still see my psychologist regularly and she helps with the mental effects of my stroke. We're also beginning to plan for life once I move away to university, and talk about adjusting and coping once I'm there with both the course and living on my own. I saw a Doctor from the occupational health department at uni last week. I had high hopes I'd write this blog post and tell you I was completely reassured - well, I'm not. I was advised that the ultimate mental recovery for stroke patients is two years, which I already knew, and that I should wait until next September (defer for another year) and see where I'm at then. Without wanting to be rude I basically told her no way, and she said ultimately is was my decision. I'm determined, I have self belief in my capabilities, and I told her I would see her this September.
When I told my friends about the whole occupational health saga, one said that nothing should stop me going but if there were to be anything it would be my anxiety and the attacks that come with them. I'm lucky in a way, some people suffer so much more than I do, and I can't imagine how much of a struggle it must be. I'm part of a stroke online chat forum thing, and I've seen a few people comment about struggling with anxiety post stroke on there, so it's good to know that this is a part of the adjustment process I'm not going through alone. I'm dealing with it. When I see my psychologist every couple of weeks, maybe every month if we're busy, we talk, and I have complete confidence that everything I say to her is in confidence and that just makes me get everything off my chest and everytime I leave I feel so much better. She's taught me ways to deal with it in all different kinds of situations - she truly is incredible at her job, I will be buying her chocolates when I leave!
Socially life is very different to what it was a year ago. This time last year we were on the back of our A-Levels and everyone was preparing for Uni. When I had my stroke, the world around me carried on. Watching all the pictures go up on facebook for those first couple of weeks during freshers felt so difficult, I began to barely check it. But then, I just got used to it. And now it'll be my turn, I'm going to uni soon, and I'll have the same experience as everyone else just a year later. Am I nervous? Hell yeah, petrified...but I'll be OK. Now the summer is here all my friends are back within a ten mile of radius of me, I'm loving it! Evening drinks at the pub, coffee and cake in the day, day trips. Life is good. This summer is going to be a lot better than last year!
Talking of friends, I don't know how I'd of got through the past year without them. They may not have been on my doorstep like they were before but they've been a text, a phonecall, or hour long Skype call away. From the moment I went into hospital, they were toffee bonbon and magazine providers, gossip mouths, and smiley faces. They sometimes say they don't understand, because they don't really, they can't and I would never expect them too. But they've done a really good job at trying. I've needed my friends this year, and they haven't let me down. The other night a friend said they were proud of me, and that was one of the most heartwarming things anyone has ever said to me.
Life right now is good. I'm working, my blog is doing really well, I feel the healthiest I've quite a while, I'm getting ready for Uni, and I'm happy, and that's the most important thing. Life is for living, the past year could have been a lot better, but it is what it is. A stroke comes without warning, it appears from nowhere, and if it's taught me anything, it's that you have no idea what the future holds. So all you can do it give it your best shot, live every moment, and follow your heart - have no regrets.
Thanks for everything over the last year.
All the love.