“The day that changed my life”! Is this a Cliché or me being dramatic?
At 6.15am on the 5th November 2010, I awoke and half asleep, progressed slowly into the bathroom, prepared the shower, closed the toilet lid, sat down and waited for the water to get to temperature.
I stopped myself drifting back to sleep, kicked my boxers off and jumped into the now warm shower and proceeded to soap myself. Within seconds I had dropped the soap and at the same time noticed an unfamiliar feeling in my forearm. A few seconds later all appeared normal, I picked up the soap and carried on with my wash. Again, I dropped the soap but this time, as I stooped to reclaim it, I experienced a sensation of “light headedness” which stopped me in my tracks. Another few seconds went by but this time as I again bent down to retrieve the soap, my right leg went numb! I lost all feeling & use of my right arm and the right side of my face drooped.
“Sh*t” I said to myself, “I’ve had a stroke”!
At this point the logical thing to do was to call for help. After all, my wife was in bed in the next room. My two sons were in their rooms across the landing, why wouldn’t you call for help.
Maybe it was because I was wet and naked but my first instinct was to wash the soap off, get dry and get out of the bath. How? I couldn’t feel my right leg to stand on! I couldn’t move my leg to lift it over the side! I thought I could sit on the edge and swivel round, how? There was nothing to hold on to and I only had my left hand to use any way. I decided the best option was to kneel down and roll myself over the side of the bath! BIG MISTAKE, I hit the floor with such a thud that within a minute my wife and both sons were at the door with worried looks on their faces.
“Phone an ambulance” I said “I’ve had a stroke”! And so within an hour of the alarm waking me up, I was in the Acute Stroke Unit of Salford Royal Hospital (formerly Hope Hospital) and in the hands of the trained professional. A realisation that meant I could and indeed did, go to sleep, whilst they “did what they had to do”.
Apart from some hazy recollections of people talking to me, the next thing I recall was waking up in a side ward with a tube up my nose and a needle in my arm. The room was very warm and it was 5.30pm. I couldn’t move my right arm or leg and it wasn’t until the nurse came in that I discovered my speech was affected. I wasn’t allowed to drink AT ALL; my lips were wiped with a piece of lint cloth soaked in some pink solution to stop them drying out and cracking.
I now realise, that my life as I knew it was over and had indeed changed forever!
Having spent 6 weeks in hospital, were I also had a blood clot in my right lung followed by Pleurisy, I was deemed well enough to go home in time for Christmas!
There then followed 3 months of Occupational and Physio Therapy by the hospital staff before my case was passed to the Community Physiotherapy team. My walking became stronger but my right arm was a concern as was the terrible fatigue and mood swings but by April 2011 I started to feel that I could attempt to drive my car and following some help from one of my brothers, I drove around a large deserted car park one day and felt great.
That inspired me to contact the Occupational Therapy team at Wrightington hospital, who specialise in assessing drivers with disabilities or impairments, who after putting me through my paces in May 2011, said I could indeed drive again. FREEDOM was mine!
About this time the Stroke Association, who had been a constant source of help and encouragement to me, asked if I would like to attend a Digital Filming course, with Peoples Voice Media a local Social Media organisation, to learn how to plan, take, edit and publish simple videos. I agreed and soon the bug had well and truly bitten me.
I have now completed three courses and become a Volunteer Community Reporter with PVM, reporting on local social events and telling peoples stories. I have also volunteered with the Stroke Association as a Media Volunteer, attending a variety of events to tell my story and hopefully inspire others to keep trying to get better. The Greater Manchester Stroke Board have invited me to become a Patient Representative, as have the Stroke Association to attend their Stroke Strategy Advisory Group, a chance to possibly shape the future care for stroke survivors.
The latest event on my road to recovery is an invitation from the BBC at Media City, to attend their 2012 Volunteer Community Reporter scheme. Spread over seven Tuesdays and followed by five days in production, it is a chance for 15 volunteers to produce some content for possible inclusion on either BBC Radio Manchester, BBC Radio 5 Live or North West Tonight.
It would be fair to say that it is unlikely I would have experienced all that I have, had I not had a stroke. I therefore conclude that “the day that changed my life” is both a cliché and over dramatic.