Stroke Survivors UK – By A Survivor For Survivors – strove@email.com

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Wg Cdr Tony’s Brilliantly Entertaining Chat

‘Have Talks Will Travel’ – Wing Commander Tony Davies has so many fabulous tales to tell and his joyous chat to members of Blackmore Stroke Club about the Magna Carta was one of the most interesting, amusing, informative and entertaining talks I have heard.

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Great Antique Talk From Gloria Henderson

Gloria gave a fantastic, entertaining & witty talk about current collectables & antiques as well valuations of items brought in Salisbury’s Onward Club members – If you would like to contact the lovely expert Gloria to talk to your Club – 01725 511216

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NEITHER Buy NOR Read MAIL

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  1. All visitors to my blog will be asked to boycott The Mail – Their friends & family also!

    After the terrible insult to Andrew & the Stroke Community I am calling on all Stroke Clubs to boycott The Mail!

    What an imbecile that dreadful man is. How the hell could any Editor 1) Print such despicable shit? 2) Not fire the bastard?

    1. What a great signal to disabled people: Quentin Letts mocks my husband for being disabled following a stroke:

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Update Publication Link – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-36246776

 

Tai Chi At Wilton Forum Stroke Club

Use for site

The Lovely friend of Sarah, Maureen Dunn, a devotee of Tai Chi, out of sheer kindness gave our Forum Stroke Club an inspirational relaxing and thought provoking demonstration of Tai Chi. It was brilliant and hugely enjoyable while drawing everybody in the club closer together. Thank you so much Maureen we all loved it! To learn more about Tai Chi – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tai_chi

To view the three videos of the Tai Chi at The Club – Click each of the following:

https://youtu.be/aFjSjuJjlSc

https://youtu.be/d1pqsEwOmK4

https://youtu.be/Q4Z9jjtNQgA

To Visit Wilton Forum Stroke Club’s Web Page: 

https://strocs.wordpress.com/wilton-stroke-club/

Salisbury’s Onward Stroke Club

Onward Stroke Club's Fun, Food & Games March 2016 (3)

Click On Our Thursday Get Together Above To View The Onward Club’s Web Page, Photos & Videos

‘So much to do here with plenty of fun and laughter filling the air while the only main distractions were gorgeous home made cakes and yummy tea proudly served up by the fabulous volunteers.

Onward Stroke Club's Fun, Food & Games March 2016 (2)

Lovely Linda, after so many dedicated hard working years has quite rightly left the helm firmly in the safe, capable hands of wonderful Mansell, so she can add her special magic to the Club.

I thought the compellingly crazy competition was so silly, it brought tears to my, and many others, eyes.

Onward Stroke Club's Fun, Food & Games March 2016 (1)

The highlight of the morning was seeing one joyous club member, actually being able to stand again after so many years confined to a chair.

Onward Club March 2016 Happiness & Amazingly Now After Years Sometimes Standing

It was incredibly heart-warming  and if the Club could provide such a support to enhance just one person’s life changing success, then the truly amazing good work Stroke Clubs carry out, whether affiliated or not to the Stroke Association, is clearly not appreciated enough by the powers at be.

Onward Stroke Club March 2016 Help For Your Hands

It is time the councils & government realised what gems local Stroke Clubs really are. They need money & recognition; they would be a huge help for the councils’ new schemes to keep more elderly out of hospital and cared for at home.

Onward Stroke Clubs' Competition Teaser March 2016 (2)

Clubs must be nurtured & developed as the true community assets they genuinely are. While the stroke Association is happy to take money off the Clubs for affiliation, insurance, funds raised for activities, etc. or rights to go to their ‘jollies’ (at usually difficult & expensive places  to reach), still not enough attention is being paid to the Stroke Clubs’ volunteer based front line work.

So instead of just donating money to the Stroke Association, why not also think of supporting your local Stroke Clubs: They really need your money to help even more survivors, their carers & families, with home chats, advice, encouragement and love, as well as practical items like exercise equipment, games, projectors, screens, transport, etc..

We must see more local support from the Stroke Association, not just self-promotional events, media hypes or conferences! Stroke Clubs need financial help and free local advertising, possibly via newspapers or door to door magazines. Routes I am currently investigating! They need a network of similar groups and clubs to link hands, with in order to pool ideas and resources.

 We are continually being asked by survivors, what exactly the Stroke Association does to help local individuals: So many say they have been disappointed by the lack of the Association’s presence, either directly after a stroke has savaged a member of  the family, or when that family member has returned home from hospital. Currently we have Stroke Association links on this site for reference purposes and only for a  limited time. We would like to hear some genuinely positive reactions about them – Please!’

Onward Stroke Clubs' Competition Teaser March 2016 (5)

42 UK Heart Failure Stories

Heart Failure Stories From 42 People Throughout The UK

Experience the heart failure stories from 42 people throughout the UK & learn about issues such as diagnosis, treatments and impact on lifestyle. We hope you find the information helpful and reassuring.

Read More:

http://www.healthtalk.org/peoples-experiences/heart-disease/heart-failure/topics?gclid=Cj0KEQiAjMC2BRC34oGKqY27jtkBEiQAwSXzflIhm_SqnKPaVo_fmEE2sIB-7t7BcRDNnfrxA2uFkqsaAv5K8P8HAQ#ixzz41GNfoYSR

What Exactly Is A Stroke?

Stroke

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This fact sheet provides information on strokes. Our fact sheets are designed as general introductions to each subject and are intended to be concise. Sources of further support and more detailed information are listed in the Useful Contacts section. Each person is affected differently by strokes and you should speak with your doctor or specialist for individual advice.


You can download this fact sheet as a pdf pdf file.


What is a stroke?

A stroke is a disruption in the blood supply to the brain. Most strokes are caused by blockages (usually blood clots) disrupting the brain’s blood supply. These are called ischaemic strokes. Some strokes are caused by bleeds. These are called haemorrhagic strokes.

The brain depends on a supply of blood for the oxygen and nutrients it requires to function properly. When the blood supply is disrupted, brain cells are starved of oxygen and nutrients. This causes damage to the brain tissue.

Stroke is a medical emergency. If you suspect someone is having a stroke, call 999. Stroke is the leading cause of adult disability in the UK. Strokes can affect people of any age but are more common in older people.

Some people have a temporary blockage in the blood supply to their brain which clears of its own accord, quickly and before any lasting damage to the brain is done. This is called a transient ischaemic attack (TIA).

(You might like to read our fact sheet on TIAs for further information.)

What are the symptoms of stroke?

Each person is affected differently by stroke and individual symptoms depend on which parts of the brain are affected and for what specific functions these parts of the brain are responsible. The severity of the symptoms depends on how much damage is done to the brain.

The main symptoms of stroke are:

  • physical problems in one side of the body (numbness, weakness),
  • drooping in one side of the face,
  • speech problems (slurred speech, muddled words) and
  • visual problems (blurred vision, loss of vision)

In more serious cases, the person might lose consciousness.

The onset of stroke symptoms is usually sudden. Strokes can occur while people are sleeping. If this happens, people can wake up with the symptoms.

People might also experience longer-term effects such as:

  • psychological problems (for example, depression or difficulty controlling emotions),
  • bowel or bladder problems (incontinence) and
  • problems with swallowing

Other symptoms can include

  • pain,
  • dizziness and balance problems,
  • memory problems,
  • a loss of awareness of one side of the body (neglect) and
  • fatigue.

What causes strokes?

Most strokes are caused by damaged arteries (the blood vessels through which blood flows from the heart to the rest of the body). Damage to the arteries carrying blood to the brain can cause strokes in the same way that damaged arteries in the heart can cause heart attacks.

Our arteries tend to harden, narrow and weaken as we get older but people with high blood pressure, smokers, people with high cholesterol, and people with heart disease or diabetes (or a family history of heart disease or diabetes) are at an increased risk.

Ischaemic strokes are caused by blockages (usually blood clots) in one of the arteries supplying the brain. Clots can form in these arteries themselves or form in a blood vessel elsewhere in the body and travel to the brain. Clots commonly form where arteries have narrowed due to a build-up of fatty deposits (cholesterol) on their inner walls. The narrowing or furring of the arteries is called atherosclerosis.

Although stroke affects the brain and not the heart, people with an irregular heartbeat (atrial fibrillation) are at an increased risk. An irregular heartbeat can cause blood clots which can travel to the brain and cause a stroke.

Haemorrhagic strokes are caused by one of the blood vessels supplying the brain bursting and causing a bleed. The most common cause is high blood pressure which damages and weakens the arteries making them more likely to tear.

Some people have haemorrhagic strokes because they have aneurysms (balloon-like swellings in the arteries) which burst. If an aneurysm bursts and causes bleeding over the surface of the brain, it is called a subarachnoid haemorrhage (SAH).

(You might like to read our booklet on subarachnoid haemorrhage for further information.)

Serious head injuries can also cause haemorrhagic strokes.

Tests and investigations

The key test for stroke is a brain scan. You might have a CT (Computerised Tomography) scan or an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scan. Your scan results can show whether your stroke is ischaemic or haemorrhagic. This is important because the treatments differ depending on the type of stroke.

(You might like to read our fact sheet on brain scans for further information.)

You might also have an ultrasound test to check for any blockages in the main arteries in your neck which supply your brain with blood (the carotid arteries).

Your blood pressure will be checked, you will have blood tests to check your cholesterol and glucose levels, and other tests to check your heart.

What are the treatments?

People who have had a stroke are at an increased risk of further strokes so it is important to try to reduce this risk. If your stroke was ischaemic you might be given medication to thin your blood and make it less sticky to reduce your risk of blood clots. If you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol you might be given medication to reduce and control your levels.

A small number of people having ischaemic strokes might benefit from a treatment called thrombolysis which dissolves the clot blocking an artery. This treatment needs to be given within a short period of time after the onset of symptoms (within three hours). It can significantly reduce the effects of the stroke but it is not available in all hospitals and is not suitable for everyone.

If you have a partial blockage in your carotid arteries you might benefit from surgery to clear it. This operation is called a carotid endarterectomy. Your doctors will discuss your suitability for this procedure with you.

Recovery

Most people tend to make their best recovery in the first few weeks and months after the stroke but people can continue to recover slowly over months and even years.

If you have any physical problems after your stroke it is likely that you will benefit from physiotherapy. A physiotherapist can help your physical recovery and the recovery of movements such as walking.

If you have any speech problems it is likely that you will benefit from speech and language therapy. A speech and language therapist can help with the recovery of your communication skills. They can also help if you have swallowing problems.

You might also benefit from occupational therapy. An occupational therapist can help you redevelop the skills you need to perform everyday activities at home like washing and cooking. They can also recommend special equipment or adaptations to your home to make your life easier.

Around a third of people make a good or full recovery, around a third are left with some form of disability and around a third die from their stroke.

How can I reduce my risk of having a stroke?

  • Stop smoking
  • Cut down on how much alcohol you drink
  • Eat a healthy diet (cut down on salt and fatty foods)
  • Exercise regularly
  • Have your blood pressure checked

Useful contacts

Brain and Spine Helpline
0808 808 1000
www.brainandspine.org.uk

Run by neuroscience nurses, providing support and information on all aspects of neurological conditions for patients, their families and carers, and health professionals.

The Stroke Association
Stroke Information Service
240 City Road
London EC1V 2PR
0303 303 3100
www.stroke.org.uk

Support and information on stroke.

Different Strokes
9 Canon Harnett Court
Wolverton Mill
Milton Keynes MK12 5NF
0845 130 7172
www.differentstrokes.co.uk

Support and information for younger people affected by stroke.

Chest, Heart and Stroke Scotland
Head Office
Rosebery House
9 Haymarket Terrace
Edinburgh
EH12 5EZ
General: 0845 077 6000
Advice Line: 0808 801 0899

www.chss.org.uk

Support and information on stroke.

NHS Choices

NHS Direct
0845 46 47

– See more at: http://www.brainandspine.org.uk/stroke?gclid=Cj0KEQiA6bq2BRC6ppf0_83Z1YIBEiQAgPYNvXzSlIvLwpkEuMCHAu_sHjgpasj7oIBr9lXpZ2ZMP2MaAm5z8P8HAQ#sthash.531EXWJL.dpuf

Stroke Conference News USA 2016

International Stroke Conference (ISC) 2016

February 17 – 19, 2016Los Angeles, California

CONFERENCE NEWS – Click On Links Below

What Is Heart Disease?

What is cardiovascular disease & what causes it?

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Written by Christian Nordqvist Knowledge center
Last updated: Thu 21 January 2016

Cardiovascular diseases include illnesses that involve the blood vessels (veins, arteries and capillaries) or the heart, or both – diseases that affect the cardiovascular system.

The cardiovascular system, also called the circulatory system, is the system that moves blood throughout the human body. It is composed of the heart, arteries, veins, and capillaries. It transports oxygenated blood from the lungs and heart throughout the whole body through the arteries. Blood goes through the capillaries – vessels situated between the veins and arteries.

When the blood has been depleted of oxygen, it makes its way back to the heart and lungs through the veins.

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The circulatory system may also include the circulation of lymph, which is essentially recycled blood plasma after it has been filtered from the blood cells and returned to the lymphatic system. The cardiovascular system does not include the lymphatic system. In this article, the circulatory system does not include the circulation of lymph.

Examples of diseases that affect the cardiovascular system

– Angina (considered as both a cardiac and vascular disease)
– Arrhythmia (problems with the heartbeat, irregular heartbeat)
– Congenital heart disease
– Coronary artery disease (CAD)
– Dilated cardiomyopathy
– Heart attack (myocardial infarction)
– Heart failure
– Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
– Mitral regurgitation
– Mitral valve prolapse
– Pulmonary stenosis

Vascular diseases (diseases that affect the blood vessels – arteries, veins or capillaries), examples include:

– Peripheral artery (arterial) disease
– Aneurism
– Atherosclerosis
– Renal artery disease
– Raynaud’s disease (Raynaud’s phenomenon)
– Buerger’s disease
– Peripheral venous disease
– Stroke – known as a type of cerebrovascular disease
– Venous blood clots
– Bloodclotting disorders.
What are the risk factor for cardiovascular disease? A risk factor is something that increases your chances of developing a disease, disorder or condition. Obesity is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes

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Researchers from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine reported in JAMA that the lifetime risk for cardiovascular disease is more than 50% for both men and women. They added that even among those with few or no cardiovascular risk factors, the risk is still more than 30%.

According to the National Health Service (NHS), UK, there are nine main risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease, they are:
Hypertension (high blood pressure) – this is the one major risk factor for CVD by far. If hypertension is poorly controlled, the artery walls may become damaged, raising the risk of developing a blood clo.t

Radiation therapy – scientists from the Karolinska Institutet, Sweden, reported in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology that radiation therapy can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease later in life.

Smoking – regular smoking can narrow the blood vessels, especially the coronary arteries.

Lack of sleep – people who sleep less than 7.5 hours each day have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease, researchers from Jichi Medical University, Tochigi, Japan, reported in Archives of Internal Medicine.

Hyperlipidemia (high blood cholesterol) – there is a higher chance of narrowing of the blood vessels and blood clots

Having a partner with cancer – a person whose partner has cancer has a nearly 30% higher risk of developing stroke or coronary heart disease, investigators from the Centre for Primary Healthcare Research in Malmö, Sweden, revealed in the journal Circulation.

Diabetes – this includes both types 1 and 2. High blood sugar levels can harm the arteries. People with type 2 diabetes are often overweight or obese, which are also risk factors for cardiovascular disease. People with diabetes are 2 to 4 times more likely to die from heart disease than non-diabetics.

Experts say that blood glucose control measurements can help predict a diabetes patient’s cardiovascular disease risk.

Unhealthy eating – diets which are high in fat combined with carbohydrates, especially if they consist mainly of fast foods, can accelerate the accumulation of fatty deposits inside the arteries, which raise the risk of obesity, hypertension and hyperlipidemia. Diets which lack adequate amounts of fruit, vegetables, fiber, whole grains and essential nutrients are not good for cardiovascular health.

A study published in BMC Medicine (March 2013 issue) found that consuming processed meat is associated with developing cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Is reduced salt intake linked to the fall in deaths from cardiovascular disease? – Between 2003 and 2011, average salt intake fell by 15% in England, and deaths from heart disease and stroke fell by around 40%. A research team from Queen Mary University of London investigated the connection and their research was published in BMJ in April 2014.

High sodium intake ’causes 1 in 10 global cardiovascular deaths each year’ – The World Health Organization recommend that adults should consume less than 2 g of sodium per day. But a new study finds that sodium intake above this recommendation accounts for almost 1 in 10 cardiovascular deaths globally each year.

Physical inactivity – people who lead predominantly sedentary lives tend to have higher blood pressure, more stress hormones, higher blood cholesterol levels, and are more likely to be overweight. These are all risk factors for cardiovascular diseases.

Drinking too much alcohol – people who drink too much tend to have higher blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels.

Stress – hormones associated with (mental) stress, such as cortisone, raise blood sugar levels. Stress is also linked to higher blood pressure.

Air pollution – Belgian researchers reported in The Lancet that air pollution causes about the same number of heart attacks as other individual risk factors. The investigators assessed 36 separate studies that focused on air pollution.

COPD and reduced lung function – a study presented at the European Respiratory Society’s Annual Congress in Amsterdam, showed that people with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) have a significant risk of developing cardiovascular disease. The researchers, from the Sunderby Hospital in Sweden, added that patients with reduced lung function are also at higher risk.

The age of first menstruation – females who start menstruating early are more likely to become obese, and have cardiovascular disease risk factors, researchers reported in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.
People with one cardiovascular risk factor, typically have one or two others too. For example, very obese people often have high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and diabetes type 2.

Experts agree that the most common risk factors for cardiovascular disease are atherosclerosis and/or hypertension.

Young depressed women ‘more likely to suffer heart attack’

A new study investigating links between depression and heart disease has found that women aged 55 and younger are more than twice as likely to suffer from major cardiac problems if they have moderate or severe depression.

These cardiac problems include death from heart disease, heart attacks and requiring an artery-opening procedure.
Smoking and preterm birth combine to triple risk of maternal CVD
A combination of smoking and giving birth preterm can more than triple the risk of cardiovascular disease faced by mothers, according to the findings of a new study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.
Low oxygen before birth, high-salt diet may pose risk for cardiovascular disease
Poor diet has a clear impact on human health, and what nourishes people as children, and even in the womb, can affect them in later life. New research suggests that lack of oxygen in the womb, combined with high salt intake in later life, can lead to vascular problems.
What is the health burden of cardiovascular disease worldwide? According to WHO (World Health Organization):
Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the leading cause of deaths globally – more people die from CVDs than anything else

In 2008, approximately 17.3 million people died from CVDs worldwide; just under one third (30%) of all registered premature deaths. Of these deaths:

– 7.3 million died from coronary heart disease
– 6.2 million from stroke

The majority (80%) of CVD deaths occur in low and middle-income countries

CVDs occur equally in men and women

Twenty-five million people will die from CVDs annually by 2030 – most of the deaths being due to stroke and heart disease.

The majority of CVDs are preventable if people addressed their risk factors

Hypertension (raised blood pressure) is responsible for 7.5 million deaths each year

420,000 women die from cardiovascular disease in the USA annually. Nearly 50% of American women die from heart disease or stroke, compared to 4% from breast cancer. Cardiovascular disease prevention in adults Reducing your risk of developing cardiovascular disease involves addressing the risk factors listed above, i.e. eating a healthy diet, doing plenty of exercise, achieving a healthy body weight and then maintaining it, and not smoking.

For people with cardiovascular disease, cocoa flavanols may be a vital part of a healthy diet, researchers from the University of California San Francisco reported in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC).

If you drink alcohol, do not exceed the recommended daily limits of 2 to 3 units per day for women and 3 to 4 for men.

Eating fresh fruit every day ‘could reduce risk of CVD by up to 40%’. The research team, led by Dr. Huaidong Du from the University of Oxford in the UK, presented the findings of their study at the European Society of Cardiology Congress 2014. Cardiovascular disease prevention in children Research has shown that lesions can appear in the aortas and right coronary arteries of children as young as 7 to 9 years of age.

Bad habits during childhood will not lead to cardiovascular disease while the person is a child, but a trend sets in that establishes the accumulation of problems that continue into adulthood, resulting in a much greater probability of having a cardiovascular disease later in life.

Children who eat a lot of salt have a much higher risk of hypertension when they are adults, as well as heart disease and stroke. Parents should also keep a close eye on how much saturated fat and sugar a child consumes.

A child, if given the right environment, is naturally physically active. In our modern society, kids spend a great deal of time watching TV, playing video games, and being chauffeured around by their parents. Something their grandparent rarely or never did when they were small.

UK health authorities say that children aged five or less who are able to walk unaided should be physically active for at least three hours each day – these hours should be spread out.

Children aged from 5 to 18 years should do at least one hour of aerobic activity daily – their activities should include a range of intensities, from the equivalent of fast-walking to running.

Swedish scientists reported that healthy children can start to show a greater risk of future heart problems if they are physically inactive.
Recent developments on cardiovascular disease prevention from MNT news
Testosterone therapy may reduce cardiovascular risk in older men
Researchers have found that men whose low levels of testosterone were treated with testosterone replacement therapy also experienced a reduced risk of heart attack, stroke and all-cause mortality.
Keep exercising, say heart experts
A new clinical perspective from the Journal of the American College of Cardiology confirms that most people in developed countries should be more concerned with the lack of exercise in their lives than by the potential harm exercise can cause.

Does aspirin protect from cardiovascular disease?Aspirin, also known as acetylsalicylic acid (ASA) is a medication that is generally used as an analgesic (painkiller that does not produce anesthesia or loss of consciousness) for minor pains; it is also used as an antipyretic (to reduce fever) and as an anti-inflammatory.

Aspirin has also become more and more popular as an antiplatelet – to prevent blood-clot formation. High-risk patients take it in low doses to prevent strokes and heart attacks.

Aspirin is also given to patients after a heart attack to prevent cardiac tissue death or heart attack recurrence.

A major problem posed by aspirin therapy for patients at risk of heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular events is major bleeding. A considerable proportion of patients with diabetes have a high rate of major bleeding, regardless of their therapeutic aspirin status.

There have been literally hundreds of studies on the benefits, harms and inefficacy of aspirin over the last twenty years. While some have shown benefits for the cardiovascular system, especially among patients with existing conditions, others have concluded that healthy people should not take regular low-dose aspirin.

Questions To Be Answered – Try Google Searching The Answers!
“An aspirin a day will keep heart attack away?”
“Use of low dose aspirin will protect against cardiovascular disease should be abandoned?”
“For healthy people daily aspirin may do more harm than good?”
“For patients with type 2 diabetes in Japan, did taking low-dose aspirin not significantly reduce cardiovascular risk?”
“Aspirin only benefits diabetics with history of heart disease or stroke?”
“Women taking daily aspirin have lower death risks says new study?”
“For most heart failure patients, aspirin and warfarin equally effective?”

 

Young Adults Take Note

Young Adults Ignore Stroke Symptoms That Could Save Their Lives (Op-Ed)

LiveScience.com

Young Adults Ignore Stroke Symptoms That Could Save Their Lives (Op-Ed)
.Dr. David Liebeskind is director of outpatient stroke and neurovascular programs and director of the Neurovascular Imaging Research Core at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. He contributed this article to Live Science’s Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

About every 40 seconds, someone has a stroke in the United States, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention — and from the moment the first symptoms occur, the clock is ticking.

Medical professionals refer to the first 3 hours after the onset of a stroke as the “golden window.” Those who receive medical treatment within those first 3 hours stand a much better chance of living and avoiding permanent injury from a stroke than those who don’t.

What you don’t know could kill you

During a stroke, blood supply to the brain is interrupted , either by blocked arteries or because a blood vessel within the brain ruptures. Without a continuous supply of oxygen and nutrients, brain cells begin to die rapidly, and without immediate medical attention, the damage can be extensive and permanent, and ultimately fatal.

While physicians know certain risk factors — like high blood pressure, smoking and high cholesterol — increase stroke risk, the truth is, we simply cannot predict exactly who will have one. According to the CDC, of the nearly 800,000 strokes that will occur this year, 3 out of 4 will be first-time strokes, meaning it will be a new, frightening experience for those patients.

Our best hope is that people know the early warning signs of a stroke and act immediately if they, or someone around them, is having one.

Unfortunately, this is a message many people, especially younger people, aren’t getting. A new national survey commissioned by my colleagues and I at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center found that people under age 45 often underestimate the symptoms of a stroke and the urgency to seek medical help.

Knowing what you don’t know

In our research, we asked more than a thousand people across the United States what they would be likely to do within the first 3 hours of experiencing numbness, weakness, or difficulty speaking or seeing, which are all common symptoms of a stroke.

Only about 1 in 3 respondents under age of 45 said they would be very likely to go to the hospital. A shocking 73 percent said they would instead be more likely to just wait to see if their symptoms improved.

That delay is not only disturbing; it could prove deadly.

Many younger people assume strokes occur only in the elderly, dismissing the telling stroke symptoms. While strokes may be more common as people age, people of all ages can experience them.

The risks are real

The truth is, anyone, even younger people, can be at risk for stroke, especially with obesity rates at an all-time high. Not only are Americans heavier, but we’re dealing with diseases like diabetes much earlier in life.

Moreover, people with diabetes are one and a half times more likely to have a stroke than those who don’t have the condition, and since 1990, the rate of diabetes in people younger than 44 has skyrocketed by 217 percent, according to the CDC.

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is another important risk factor for stroke, and today, it affects about 70 million people, including 1 in 4 men ages 35 to 44. [Hypertension: Symptoms and Treatment]

Given those numbers, it’s clear that many people under age 45 have risk factors for stroke, and according to a recent study published by the American Academy of Neurology, strokes in younger patients are on the rise. The study found that between 1995 and 2008, the number of strokes in people between the ages of 15 and 44 increased by as much as 53 percent.

Most strokes can be treated

Regardless of a patient’s age, most strokes (about 85 percent) are ischemic strokes, in which an artery that carries blood to the brain becomes blocked, usually by a clot. Without normal blood flow, the brain is robbed of oxygen — and the longer it goes without oxygen, the more it’s damaged.

If patients arrive at the hospital soon enough, doctors can give them drugs called tissue plasminogen activators (tPA) to break up the clots and restore blood flow. In some cases, surgery is necessary. If the clot is in a carotid artery — the large arteries on the sides of the neck — we may need to perform a carotid endarterectomy to remove plaque from the artery, or angioplasty, in which we use a balloon to widen the artery (and often insert a stent to keep it open and restore unrestricted blood flow).

We also perform surgery for hemorrhagic strokes, which occur when an artery in the brain ruptures or leaks blood directly into the brain.

The good news is, there are treatment options for stroke. The bad news is, unless you know what to look for and get medical attention immediately, doctors may never have the chance to help.

The American Heart Association has an easy way for you to remember the early warning signs of a stroke so that you can act “F.A.S.T.” Check for the following signs:

Face drooping. Ask the person to smile, and see if their smile seems crooked.
Arm weakness. Ask if one arm is numb or weak, and have them raise both arms to check their strength.
Speech difficulty. Is the person slurring their speech or speaking incoherently?
Time to call 9-1-1. Call immediately, and note the time you first noticed the symptoms.

It’s natural for younger people to be inclined to think that symptoms of a stroke are likely due to something else. Unfortunately, those cardinal signs of stroke are the only trigger or alert that we have to implement prompt diagnosis, and importantly, effective treatments.

Given the results of this survey, it’s clear we need to do a better job of making all patients aware of the signs of a stroke and the urgency to seek treatment before it’s too late.

 

USA Trials Must Apply To UK

Rapid Stroke Improvement Not Always a Ticket Home

LOS ANGELES — As many as a third to nearly half of patients with stroke who show rapid neurological improvement before arrival to the hospital are not discharged home, new research shows.

The findings suggest the need for physicians not to let their guard down with such patients, researchers say.

“It tells people just because they are rapidly improving from the field when they were picked up by [emergency medical services] that you still need to be aggressive,” said senior author Steven R. Levine, MD, professor of neurology and emergency medicine; vice-chair of neurology; and associate dean for clinical research and faculty development, State University of New York Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn.

“We are looking for a disease in their brain arteries that might be amenable to more aggressive interventional therapy. At the very least they still may be eligible for [tissue plasminogen activator] intravenously, but…they need to go to the cath lab for stem retriever or interventional therapy. They don’t all just do well and go home.”

“Patients with very early rapid neurological improvement when first examined at the hospital still need to be considered for therapy to dissolve blood clots, given the high rate of unfavorable outcome,” lead author Clotilde Balucani, MD, PhD, a research assistant professor in neurology at the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center, said in a press statement.

The findings were presented here at the International Stroke Conference (ISC) 2016.

Although patients with stroke who present at the hospital with symptoms that have quickly improved may logically be presumed to have better outcomes, research has been lacking on actual rates of recovery.

To investigate the issue, Dr Balucani and colleagues evaluated data on 1700 patients involved in the phase 3, randomized Field Administration of Stroke Therapy-Magnesium (FAST-MAG) trial. The main FAST-MAG analysis, previously reported, compared prehospital administration of intravenous magnesium in patients with stroke and showed no benefit from treatment.

The prehospital evaluation gave the researchers the opportunity to look at those patients who have a rapid recovery, Dr Levine said.

Among the patients, 326 (19%) had any rapid improvement, defined as a decrease of two or more points on the Los Angeles Motor Scale (LAMS) between first contact and arrival at the hospital, whereas 98 (6%) had dramatic rapid improvement, defined as a decrease of at least 4 points on the LAMS scale.

Both groups showed significantly higher rates of being discharged home (53% for any rapid improvement and 64% for dramatic rapid improvement) compared with the remaining 1276 (75%) patients (25% discharged home; P < .001).

As expected, patients with any rapid improvement were more likely to have excellent outcomes (61%) compared with those with no rapid improvement (28%; P < .0001), with an odds ratio, after adjusting for covariates, of 1.33 (95% confidence interval, 1.00 – 1.76, P = .046).

Despite the discharge rates being higher, the figures still mean a significantly large percentage of those with rapid improvement have uncertain outcomes, the authors suggest.

“While clinical outcomes were overall more favorable for acute stroke syndromes presenting with rapid neurological outcome, 47% (any rapid improvement) and 36% (dramatic improvement) were not discharged home,” they report.

“Our data suggest that rapid neurological improvement in the prehospital setting does not always translate to favourable outcome.”

Patients with rapid improvement had several notable differences from those without: Rates of hypertension and diabetes were significantly lower in those with rapid improvement (P = .008 and P = .014, respectively), and median hospital National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale scores were 3 (range, 1 – 6) in the group with any rapid improvement and 0 (range, 0 – 2) in those with dramatic rapid improvement compared with 12 (range, 6 – 20) among those with no rapid improvement (P < .0001).

Median prehospital LAMS scores were 3 (interquartile range, 3 – 5) with any rapid improvement, 5 (interquartile range, 4-5) with dramatic rapid improvement, and 4 (interquartile range, 3 – 5) for no rapid improvement (P < .0001).

Those with any or dramatic rapid improvement had mean ages of 71.4 and 67.1 years, respectively, whereas the mean age for those with no rapid recovery was 69.1. There were no significant sex differences between the groups.

“Next steps are to try to look at what are the predictors of people who rapidly improve, and to look at whether or not we can identify them quick enough to get them intervened on, and hopefully make a difference in those natural history numbers that we have now, to see if we can get them better in terms of better outcomes for those folks,” Dr Levine said.

According to Philip Gorelick, MD, MPH, a spokesperson for the American Stroke Association, the findings are not necessarily surprising, and underscore that even with rapid improvement, underlying pathology could spell trouble for such patients.

“This group of patients may have severe cerebral artery occlusive pathology or significant cardiac sources of stroke, which may lead to further cerebral ischemic events soon after rapid neurological recovery occurs,” he told Medscape Medical News.

In further exploring the issue, more details on characteristics of those who were and were not discharged home might help determine those most at risk, said Dr Gorelick, who is director of Hauenstein Neuroscience Center at Saint Mary’s Health Care and clinical professor of translational science and molecular medicine at the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine in Grand Rapids.

“Additional information that would be helpful includes knowledge of the underlying stroke mechanism in those patients who had rapid neurological improvement but were not discharged home, as this might provide clues to care providers about what types of stroke mechanisms that may need to be uncovered.”

“Furthermore, in these same patients, was there any delay in administration of stroke treatment or prevention measures that might help to explain outcomes and why patients were not discharged home?”

The study ultimately underscores the need for clinicians not to let their guard down when symptoms appear to have quickly improved, Dr Gorelick added.

“The study is important, as it reminds us not to become complacent in patients who have rapid neurologic recovery after cerebral ischemia, as these patients may have poor outcomes,” he said.

“Thus, patients with rapid neurological improvement must have rapid neurologic diagnostic study to uncover the underlying stroke mechanism and receive timely and appropriate stroke treatment and prevention measures.”

Coauthor David S. Liebeskind, MD, has relationships with Medtronic and Stryker and has received research funding from the National Institutes of Health-National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. The other authors have disclosed no relevant financial relationships. Dr Gorelick is on the speaker’s bureaus for stroke prevention for Boehringer Ingelheim, New Haven Pharmaceuticals, and Pfizer.

International Stroke Conference (ISC) 2016: Abstract 78. Presented February 17, 2016.

Silk Stockings & Spitfires

Wilton Forum Stroke Club – Click To Visit Forum’s Site Page

https://strocs.wordpress.com/wilton-stroke-club/

Tuesday 19th Jan 2016 – Fantastic talk from John Smith about lady pilots during the war.

Wilton Stockings & Spitfires (1) Wilton Stockings & Spitfires (2) Wilton Stockings & Spitfires (3) Wilton Stockings & Spitfires (4) Wilton Stockings & Spitfires (5) Wilton Stockings & Spitfires (6)

If you would like John to talk at your club or event – Email him on – johncolinsmith@sky.com

Pacemaker In – Thank You NHS Salisbury

Scar Pacemaker 29th Dec 2015 editedStill Standing Stirred But Not ShakenXray Pacemaker op use2 lighter

Thank you so much, NHS Salisbury OdstocK Hospital, for giving me my life back. I am a little bruised but have never been happier or livelier in years!

Thanks to Dr. Jones and his amazing surgical skills, backed up by an incredible cardiac team and nursing care, my new pacemaker has been perfectly fitted.
The difference I feel is way, way beyond my expectation and hope, giving me a way forward I would never, ever, ever, have thought possible.
Special mega thanks not just to Dr Jones and his team, but to the lovely Ginny, Ellen, Sunny and Claudia, as well as all those nursing and caring on Tisbury Ward.
Huge thanks also to Claire, Sharon and Amy at the CIU, for their patience and understanding while explaining so much about my heart and procedure.
I will never forget Amanda’s kindness, encouragement and help, without which I could not have gone through the experience so calmly and quickly. Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!
Our NHS is wonderful, is drastically underfunded but it still keeps delivering; It’s time for those in power to wake up and pay the doctors and nurses their true worth! What’s more, when you see so many different nationalities – I counted at least 10 – working relentlessly hard throughout the hospital, please, please TAKE NOTE, not everyone coming to this country is just looking for handouts or benefits.
Also, I must not forget all those at The Stars Appeal for raising the money to build the new Cardiac Unit – Without them it would not have been possible! Amazing job done!

If it had not been for Patrick and his brilliant surgery at Hindon, being so attentive and caring, I might never have received the much needed treatment, surgery and medication, my body was clearly desperate for. I can never thank you enough! http://www.hindonsurgery.co.uk/

*For information about Odstock’s Cardiac Investigation Unit Group Support Salisbury, click on the link below:

https://ciugss.wordpress.com/

*Click The Link Below To Read My Story So Far:

https://strokesurvivorsuk.wordpress.com/2015/11/09/my-own-story-2014-2015/

 

Is Sex In Later Years Always Grey?

Read Below The 50 Shades Of Grey & Laugh Out Loud

Fifty Shades Of Grey

FIFTY SHADES OF GREY – (a husband’s point of view) – By Pam Ayres

The missus bought a Paperback,
down Shepton Mallet way,
I had a look inside her bag;
… T’was “Fifty Shades of Grey”.
Well I just left her to it,
And at ten I went to bed.
An hour later she appeared;
The sight filled me with dread…
In her left she held a rope;
And in her right a whip!
She threw them down upon the floor,
And then began to strip.
Well fifty years or so ago;
I might have had a peek;
But Mabel hasn’t weathered well;
She’s eighty four next week!!
Watching Mabel bump and grind;
Could not have been much grimmer.
And things then went from bad to worse;
She toppled off her Zimmer!
She struggled back upon her feet;
A couple minutes later;
She put her teeth back in and said
I am a dominater !!
Now if you knew our Mabel,
You’d see just why I spluttered,
I’d spent two months in traction
For the last complaint I’d uttered.
She stood there nude and naked
Bent forward just a bit
I went to hold her, sensual like
and stood on her left tit!
Mabel screamed, her teeth shot out;
My god what had I done!?
She moaned and groaned then shouted out:
“Step on the other one”!!
Well readers, I can’t tell no more;
About what occurred that day.
Suffice to say my jet black hair,
Turned fifty shades of grey

Southampton’s Breakthrough Treatment

S HospitalHeading For Trailblazing Op

A 66-year-old woman has become the first in England to undergo a stem cell brain injection to help recover the use of her arm after she suffered a stroke.

Mr Bulters

Diederik Bulters, a consultant neurosurgeon at Southampton General Hospital, and his team – which consisted of 17 colleagues – carried out the procedure after the woman lost functional movement in her arm when she suffered a stroke a year ago.

The treatment, which will be trialled on 41 patients as part of a UK-wide study known as Pisces II, works by delivering stem cells into the part of the brain that is believed to help generate new nerve cells.

operation

The technique was first used in 2010 at Glasgow’s Southern General Hospital for an early-stage study, which involved a total of 11 patients aged in their 60s, 70s and 80s, which found it was safe and preliminary findings showed promising results.

Really exciting: Mr Bulters is thrilled to be at the forefront of the new treatment.

Every year, around 110,000 people in England suffer a stroke and it is the third largest cause of death behind heart disease and cancer.

A hospital spokesman said: “The majority of strokes are caused by a blockage of blood flow in the brain, known as ischaemic stroke, and around half of all survivors are left with permanent disabilities, with the most common being paralysis of the face, arm and leg on one side of the body.

Read more: Being bilingual could boost your chances of recovering from a stroke

“After initial treatment for a stroke, which involves having clot-busting drugs administered within several hours of the onset of the condition, there are no existing treatments, other than ongoing rehabilitation, to alleviate the disabilities caused as a result.”

Mr Bulters said: “This is a really exciting study and we are delighted to be a part of it and be able to offer some of our patients the opportunity to trial this potentially revolutionary treatment.

“The treatment was tested successfully in a small, early-stage study in Scotland, which showed the technique to be safe, so what we need to do now is quantify how much benefit is derived from it.

Great strides: Mr Bulters is now keen to establish how effective the treatment is

“While we have made great strides in this country in treating the onset of a stroke, there is little that can currently be done to improve the lives of so many survivors who are left permanently disabled as a result – but this project could change that.”

A second patient, a 72-year-old woman, has now received the injection at Southampton General Hospital and the study is under way at 11 other units in the UK.

 

Stroke & Heart Attack Prevention

blueberries use

Help prevent heart attack, cancer, and stroke by eating more of these 6 foods

Natural News – Heart attack, cancer and stroke are the leading causes of death worldwide. While it is impossible to avoid risk factors such as age, sex and family history, there is plenty we can do to protect our bodies against these life-threatening diseases.

Science has shown that eating more fresh, plant-based foods and fewer processed or fast foods is the way to keep the body healthy and happy. Although all nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables deserve a place in the spotlight when it comes to maintaining proper health, some of them deserve extra attention, according to weight loss expert Dr. Sally Norton.

“We’re always hearing about the latest ‘superfoods’ – and how they could have a powerful effect on our health and wellbeing,” she told the Daily Mail. “And while the term ‘superfood’ might be thrown around a little too freely sometimes, there are some fruits and seeds that really are a power-house of nutritional value,” she added.

The best foods to help prevent heart attack, cancer and stroke

Sour Cherries

Cherries, especially tart cherries, have a wide range of health benefits. Touted for their sleep-enhancing properties and their ability to cure inflammation and chronic joint pain, researchers from the University of Michigan Health System found they reduce the risk of stroke as well.

They found that anthocyanins, an antioxidant that gives the cherries their red color, may regulate fat and glucose levels and fight oxidation, which reduces the risk of high cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, and several types of cancer.

Avocados

Multiple studies link avocado consumption with better cardiovascular health. Its superpowers have been attributed to its high amounts of a heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acid known as oleic acid. It helps lower LDL or “bad” cholesterol, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke.

Some studies have found that certain compounds in avocados or their extract might be useful in helping prevent prostate or other types of cancer and reducing the side effects of chemotherapy.

Cranberries

These tiny little berries are the best natural way to treat urinary tract infections, but their power doesn’t stop there. They are antioxidant powerhouses that protect your body against several types of cancer and keep your heart healthy.

Cranberries have a sour taste, so watch out when buying cranberry juice because it often contains high amounts of added sugars.

Blueberries

Blueberries are loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. They have been touted as a superfood for many years and for some good reasons. They have been linked to all sorts of health benefits ranging from improving eyesight and brain power to preventing heart disease and cancer.

Pumpkin seeds

A unique combination of powerful antioxidants gives pumpkin seeds their superpowers. While most studies focused on pumpkin seeds’ ability to prevent and treat diabetes, there is some evidence that they might reduce oxidative stress, which plays a major role in the development of cancer.

Chia seeds

Although this seed has been around for ages, it has only recently experienced a steep rise in popularity. The Mayas and Aztecs used it to improve stamina and energy levels, but it can do so much more. These tiny seeds are packed with antioxidants, soluble fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and minerals that may prevent oxidative stress, lower LDL while raising “good” cholesterol or HDL, and reduce inflammation and insulin resistance.

While it is important to follow a healthy diet and add more of these foods to your diet to avoid life-threatening diseases, there are some other things you should take into consideration to maintain optimal health. Don’t smoke or use tobacco, exercise regularly, maintain a healthy weight, get your beauty sleep, cut out processed foods, and keep an eye on how much alcohol you drink.

Sources:

1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

2. http://www.dailymail.co.uk

3. http://www.sciencedaily.com

4. http://www.whfoods.com

5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

6. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

7. http://www.whfoods.com

8. http://www.whfoods.com

9. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

My Own Story 2014 – 2015

Last November I had a Lacunar Stroke & weeks later, two smaller ones. My Story so far: Nov 2014 – Sept 2015

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Last November I had a Lacunar Stroke & weeks later, two smaller ones. My Story so far: Nov 2014 – Update Sept 2015

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*LATEST UPDATE – 29/09/2015 – ‘I have to keep taking the increased medication until December to allow those drugs to try, if possible, to remould as well as stabilise, my heart’s left ventricle, which is only working at a rate of about 22% (Apparently anything under 35% justifies a pacemaker). So that will hopefully be a welcomed Christmas present.

*17/09/2015 ‘I now have an appointment on the 24th with the Heart Failure Clinic at Odstock. Hopefully a pacemaker will be fitted soon and that will mean an end to the AF which keeps sneaking up on me: That should also greatly reduce the likelihood of future strokes. Luckily so many of my stroke physical symptoms have finally gone, with only now unbelievably easy to achieve total exhaustion daily, numbness around the mouth and left eye, slightly weak left leg, pins and needles in both hands, nagging headaches, confused memory and continual feeling of trepidation, still sadly lingering. Fingers crossed for the 24th! I will keep you all updated!’

Please kindly add the story of your own stroke experience, to help others, by emailing – strokesurvivorsuk@email.com

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NO STROKE OF LUCK – WHAT HAPPENED TO ME

Early November 2014 I woke with a thumping headache; somebody with lead boots was jumping on my eyes while tightening a vice between my ears and pushing an elbow into the back of my neck. I lifted a glass of water from my bedside but neither my arm nor hand seemed to be part of me. It was as if I had no control over picking it up and although I did, there was no coordination between glass and mouth, so water soon spilt down my front. My wife Emily turned on the light and we could see my face seemed frozen and my mouth had dropped. My left lips had fallen, my left eye was nearly closed, my left arm and leg felt like sponge, I was grey and speaking in a strange slurred way. Emily was fantastic, immediately calling for an ambulance, lovingly giving me a big hug and calming me down. The ambulance operator stayed on the phone until the team arrived, but a paramedic was on the scene first. They were all so reassuring, competent, genuinely caring and amazingly well trained. More alert than I would ever have been at 4am in the morning!

Rushed to Salisbury Odstock Hospital

I was scanned & given a huge dose blood thinner when it was realised I had not had a bleed, but a blockage. Probably because I was already taking aspirin as part of the medication needed after my three heart attacks, triple bypass and aneurysm removal a couple of years ago, the immediate effects of the stroke might have appeared less severe than they really were. I was diagnosed with a lacunar stroke (Scroll down the page for details) which was probably not permanently disabling and recovery could take up to a year or, who knows, maybe more. As time went on, I realised there are a lot of ’who knows‘ in the World of Strokes or Events, as they in the trade call them. Why is that word used? When I think of events, I think of fun times, celebrations, weddings, horses, sport etc.. Not a terrifying mind and body distorting, threat to life. The nursing and medical care in Odstock was terrific, efficient, attentive and very re-assuring. After tests of all kinds, occupational and other therapists’ visits, I had made enough progress over the days, to be signed out of Farley Ward.

Once home, the recurring symptoms, both sensory & motor derived, many of which must earlier have been under the surface (silent), reared their ugly heads after I had two more slightly lighter strokes 6 weeks later.

My recovery at home became a nightmare with symptoms changing radically every exhausting day. From speech, to pain, to numbness, to taste, to tingling, to pinching, to stiffening, to fuzziness, to blurring, to sight, to hearing, to headaches, to weakness, to fatigue, to excretion, to tears, to depression, to fear, to anxiety, to instability, each day this dreadful stroke played Russian roulette with my body and, frighteningly unpredictably, my mind.

MY RECOVERY AT HOME & WHAT I HAVE LEARNT

  1. So much is known about strokes but little is understood about them.
  2. You never fully recover; physically perhaps, mentally never; such an experience will always be firmly engraved on your mind.
  3. You find yourself saying in so many conversations; ’since my stroke‘, as if there was never a time before it.
  4. Every stroke is different, as are the effects on each individual.
  5. What you think may be a new stroke, could simply be ’sleeping‘ symptoms waking up at odd times, giving recurring effects.
  6. When unused brain cells, waiting in the wings to try and take over the work normally done by the stroke damaged ones, become active, your physical & mental reactions to these neural job seekers can be very confusing, bewildering, painful & extremely stressful, sometimes giving the impression that you are having another stroke.
  7. Always expect the unexpected in recovery; both short & long term.
  8. You will never ever, in your life, have felt so tired, so be prepared for total exhaustion, sometimes instantly & without cause or reason.
  9. Emotions become uncontrollable, thoughts & reactions unreal, & with physical movements often inhibited, it’s as if some unknown alien has taken charge of your mind & body. This post stroke you, is not the real you!
  10. You can get your sense of worth back & ’beat the alien‘, by planning, using what’s left of your brain, a route through the turmoil with positive thoughts, humour, love & strength of will. Negativity will simply crush you!

My Average Day

*Update – 12/07/2015

Eight months after my Lacunar Stroke (Affecting both motor & sensory system) & seven months after the two smaller ones:

Daily I still have pins & needles in all fingers, my left arm seems less weak, lips and mouth feel swollen, eyes occasionally fuzzy, speech sometimes slightly slurred, burning tightening sensation in the palm of both hands near the wrist and when I walk, my left lower leg is trying to tell me I am not its owner.

My head throbs non stop and aches above and around the eyes, but by now this is manageable.

My mouth is always dry and my tongue sore.

The intensity of any symptoms seems to depend a great deal on how well I have slept & how tired I was the day before.

Sleep & keeping hydrated with plenty of water are what spurs on the recovery process; a nap for at least an hour every afternoon is vital.

Everything looks so promising but I still have:

The lack of self confidence & dread of having a further stroke.

The uncontrollable daily fluctuation in emotions & anxieties.

The overwhelming feeling of being insular & at the same time, very vulnerable.

My day to day terrifying worries about things which will probably never happen.

*Gone: Every morning until the first week in July, I used to wake up with my lips feeling swollen & falling off the left side of my face, my chin numb, my tongue pinching tightly inwards, my eyelids & cheeks as if they have spent the night in a bed of nettles, my left elbow, arm & hand floppy.

*Gone: Up until the second week in July a vice was pushing on my head trying to crush the skull between my ears and it also felt like some stranger standing on top of my forehead with hob nailed boots on.

*Gone: Unlike up until early July, the symptoms are feeling much lighter and do not all always rear their ugly heads during the day.

*Gone: My fear of travelling too far from the safety of my own home.

*Gone: The lack of total co-ordination & the capacity to only write in an illegible scrawl.

Gone: The terrible taste of metal, in my seemingly always dry mouth, I had during January & February.

Gone: The instability, stumbles & falls.

Gone: The very blurred vision I had on & off for four weeks.

Gone: The slurred, garbled or unintelligible speech.

Gone: The frozen, drooping, left side of my face.

Gone: Thanks to riding Davina (my exercise cycle) daily, my weak left leg.

Gone: The entire numbed face, as if deadened by a dentist’s injection, I had for six weeks.

Gone: The dead lumpy feeling I had in my tongue, making me incessantly lick the inside of my cheek nearly raw.

Gone: The ferocious headaches, which seemed to throb, non-stop, every day for nearly four months.

Gone: The inability to create words from an apparent jumble of letters on the keyboard; made further impossible by only being able to see half a computer screen.

Gone: The daily feeling of nausea.

Gone: Total exhaustion felt every day, from the moment I woke up until bedtime and although I do become tired relatively easily and suddenly, it is no where near as bad.

Gone: The feeling of being of being completely isolated now I am allowed, & able, to drive once more.

Gone: The sense of paranoia & need to self destruct.

Gone: The endless nights of visiting, every thirty minutes at least, the bathroom for a stand up or sit down excrete. Neither of which I really needed, it was my brain just kidding me that I did. This went on continuously for one week; I was at my lowest during this time.

Gone: Just recently, has the fear of making conversation with more than one person for any length of time.

I Am Improving Daily But:

*Most of the time, except when I am black around the eyes, my left lip droops & I am slow, unsure, stuttering & dithering, I look & act my usual self: Also, I have, as before my strokes, great bursts of uninterrupted enthusiastic energy, which used to be sustainable, but sadly no longer are; now I become tired quite quickly and because of my exuberant trait, people I know, do not realise what lies underneath this apparently normal exterior.

While my long term memory is naturally somewhat affected, my short term memory is virtually non existent, so unless I write things down or video them, days are lost forever: Reading, a pleasure I have had for years, is now pointless because stories always disappear so quickly, meaning that whenever I pick up a book I was previously reading, even after just a few hours, nothing makes any sense, so I would have to start again back at page one.

*My left eye area, mouth and cheek still feel numb daily but no where as bad as before.

*I still have thumping headaches but they are, thankfully, less severe.

I still have hot waves running down my chest, along with strong palpitations & heavy perspiration, at least twice a week, generally in the late evenings or during the night.

*I no longer seem to have A.F. so regularly, because the medication prescribed by my fantastic G.P.s, at the brilliant Hindon Surgery, seems, so far, to be working well to prevent it triggering off another stroke. I have had A.F. since my triple heart bypass & aneurysm removal.

I take a blood thinner which unfortunately does not accept vitamin K as a clotting agent, so I have to carry a tube of super glue to use on any cut, to stop myself bleeding out. A small price to pay!

I do not know if I will ever fully physically recover, but I am determined enough to get as far along that road as I possibly can.

I cannot ever thank my wife, family & friends, enough for their tireless support and unyielding love!

I will never forget the devoted care & compassion given so selflessly by our wonderful NHS specialists, doctors, nurses, paramedics and incredible staff behind the scenes.

I hope the Tardis Trial, in which I took part, encouraged by the warm & talented Dr. Black, will help prevent future patients from having recurring strokes. Sadly the trial did not stop me from having other ‘events’, but such dedicated work is needed to make clinical progress in the strange world of strokes.

I will be eternally grateful for the amazing after-care from my terrific, incredibly knowledgeable & ‘stroke experienced’ doctors, Patrick, Julian & Sally, along with all staff at the ever attentive, unbeatable, lovely Hindon Surgery (http://www.hindonsurgery.co.uk/) in South West Wiltshire.

I will never forget the genuine warm friendship, love & care so unselfishly given by my local stroke clubs.

Thank you also Emma & Beth from The Stroke Association for your good humoured, enthusiastic help & encouragement.

The journey continues and I realise every day how much I love life & living; how much I adore my wife & daughters; how much I value my family & true friends; how much I cannot be without my faithful happy dog Scrappy (https://thescrappydogblog.wordpress.com/).

As for the future, it now looks very good indeed!

WHAT IS A LACUNAR STROKE?

Strokes can damage brain tissue in the outer part of the brain (the cortex) or deeper structures in the brain underneath the cortex. A stroke in a deep area of the brain (for example, a stroke in the thalamus, the basal ganglia or pons) is called a lacunar stroke. These deeper structures receive their blood flow through a unique set of arteries. Because of the characteristics of these arteries, lacunar strokes happen a little bit differently from other strokes.

A lacunar stroke occurs when one of the arteries that provide blood to the brain’s deep structures is blocked. These arteries are small, and are uniquely vulnerable. Unlike most arteries, which gradually taper to a smaller size, the arteries of a lacunar stroke branch directly off of a large, high-pressure, heavily muscled main artery. High blood pressure (hypertension) can lead to lacunar strokes because it causes a pounding pulse. Since the arteries don’t gradually taper down in their size, high blood pressure can directly damage these arteries. High blood pressure also can cause atherosclerosis, a condition in which fatty deposits (plaques) build up along the walls of blood vessels. When atherosclerosis is present, a clot can form inside of one of these small arteries, blocking blood flow in the artery.

Lacunar Stroke

Unlike strokes that damage the cortex, lacunar strokes are only rarely caused by a blood clot (also called a “thrombus”) that forms elsewhere in the body, such as the neck or heart, and travels through the bloodstream to the brain. After a clot (or any debris) begins to travel through the bloodstream it is called an embolus. It is difficult for an embolus to make its way into the small arteries that can cause a lacunar stroke.

Many of the deep brain organs that can be injured by a lacunar stroke help to relay communication between the brainstem and the brain cortex, or help to coordinate complicated body movements. In a lacunar stroke, brain cells in a relatively small area (measuring from 3 millimetres to as much as 2 centimetres across) are damaged or killed by lack of oxygen. Such a small area of brain destruction is called a lacune. A lacunar stroke involves only a small area of the brain, but it can cause significant disability.

Symptoms

The symptoms of lacunar stroke vary depending on the part of the brain that is deprived of its blood supply. Different areas of the brain are responsible for different functions, such as sensation, movement, sight, speech, balance and coordination.

Symptoms can include:

  • Weakness or paralysis of the face, arm, leg, foot or toes
  • Sudden numbness
  • Difficulty walking
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Clumsiness of a hand or arm
  • Weakness or paralysis of eye muscles
  • Other neurological symptoms

In a person with prolonged, untreated high blood pressure, multiple lacunar strokes can occur. This can cause additional symptoms to develop, including emotional behavior and dementia.

The sudden appearance of one or more of these symptoms is a warning sign that a stroke may be in progress. Sometimes, the small clots that can cause a lacunar stroke interfere with blood flow only for a few minutes. If the clot dissolves before damage is done, then symptoms can begin to improve within minutes and may go away completely. When symptoms go away without treatment and full recovery occurs within 24 hours, the event is called a transient ischemic attack (TIA). Never decide to wait and see whether stroke symptoms will go away on their own. Get to a hospital as quickly as possible for treatment.

Diagnosis

Your doctor will ask about your medical history (high blood pressure, heart disease, smoking, high cholesterol and diabetes). He or she will check your vital signs (temperature, pulse, breathing rate and blood pressure) and might order an electrocardiogram (ECG).

Lacunar strokes usually are identified by a computed tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan of your brain. An MRI technique known as diffusion weighted imaging is particularly sensitive for identifying very new lacunar strokes.

Expected Duration

If your symptoms continue without improvement during the time you are traveling to hospital, it is best to assume that your event is a full-blown stroke, not a TIA. If a lacunar stroke is treated early, full recovery is possible. If medicines restore circulation to the brain quickly, symptoms of a lacunar stroke may go away within hours. If blood supply is interrupted for a longer time, brain injury may be more severe, and symptoms may last for many weeks or months, requiring physical rehabilitation. There may be permanent disability.

Prevention

You can help to prevent lacunar stroke by preventing or controlling the risk factors for stroke – high blood pressure, smoking, heart disease and diabetes. If you have high blood pressure or heart disease, follow your doctor’s recommendations for modifying your diet and taking your medication. Exercise regularly, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, and avoid foods filled with saturated fats and cholesterol. If you smoke, quit. If you have diabetes, monitor your blood sugar level frequently, follow your diet, and take your insulin or oral diabetes medication as your doctor has prescribed.

If you have had a lacunar stroke, your doctor may recommend a daily aspirin or other blood-thinning medication, such as ticlopidine (Ticlid) or clopidogrel (Plavix). These medicines may reduce your risk, but their benefit has been more obvious for stroke types other than lacunar strokes. If you have never had a stroke of any kind, you might lower your risk for a first stroke if you take a daily aspirin. There is strong evidence that stroke risk is reduced for women over the age of 45 who take aspirin once every other day. This benefit has not been proven for men.

Treatment

If doctors are able to provide treatment within three hours after symptoms start, they probably will use with a clot-dissolving medication. Although the blood-thinning medication heparin often is used to treat strokes that affect large arteries, it does not appear to help people with lacunar strokes recover.

A person who has had a lacunar stroke usually is hospitalized so that he or she can be observed in case symptoms worsen. A person with a severe stroke may need help with self-care or feeding. In the hospital, an occupational therapist and a physical therapist can help the person to work around a new disability and to regain strength after brain injury. Commonly, hospitalization is followed by a period of residence at a rehabilitation center, where additional intensive therapy may be given. The goal of rehabilitation is to maximize recovery. To prevent future strokes, it is very important for you to control high blood pressure. It helps to take a daily aspirin or other blood-thinning medication (ticlopidine or clopidogrel).

When To Call an Ambulance

Call for emergency treatment immediately whenever the symptoms of lacunar stroke occur, even if these symptoms last only a few minutes. For best results, stroke treatment must occur within three hours of the start of symptoms.

Prognosis

People often begin to recover within hours or days of a lacunar stroke. Lacunar strokes have a better rate of recovery than other strokes that involve larger blood vessels. More than 90 percent of people with a lacunar stroke will recover substantially within the first three months following the stroke.

‘Before my strokes, here I am with Scrappy Dog, both of us being ‘Purpled’ for Charity at 2DorzDown – Hairdressers In Tisbury High Street.’

Lucy's Days Out At 2DorzDown (1)

‘My experiences on the road to recovery from my lacunar stroke in November, two smaller ones in December & January, up until June 2015 have been posted. More later on in 2015.’

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

‘Here I am above, in April, looking good at the same hairdressers, on my road to recovery.’

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As A Stroke Survivor I Know The Following Is Also Important

map of brain Click on all images to enlarge & zoom in.

1Recognising the symptoms & quickly acting on them is essential. Speed in getting medical help is vital: Remember F.A.S.T. Face-Arms-Speech-Time.

  • Face – the face may have dropped on one side, the person may not be able to smile or their mouth or eye may have drooped.
  • Arms – the person with suspected stroke may not be able to lift both arms and keep them there because of arm weakness or numbness in one arm.
  • Speech – their speech may be slurred or garbled, or the person may not be able to talk at all despite appearing to be awake.
  • Time – it is time to dial 999 immediately if you notice any of these signs or symptoms.

2No two strokes are exactly the same! We are all different, so are our strokes, their symptoms, reactions and recovery processes. Depending on how severe the stroke is, our wonderful NHS medics, ambulance attendants, hospital care, nursing, doctors and medication can keep us alive: Only our individual coping mechanisms, self determination, true love and often selfless care will define the outcome.

3Once you have had a stroke, you change, never to be the same again! So make sure that change is positive and gives you a new insight to a post stroke life. It could make you a better, more tolerant, positive, nicer person.

4Blood starved and useless brain cells cannot be repaired; whenever possible, lively unused ones, hanging around waiting for work, try to take over their jobs. These suddenly employed cells and their neural jobseeker mates give this a real go whenever they can, and the effects can feel very strange and hugely confusing.

5The Brain is an incredibly remarkable bit of kit and more resilient than one could ever imagine. It doesn’t give up easily: Neither should any stroke survivor, family, friends or carers.

6 – Talk to others who have had a stroke, as soon as possible. You will realise you are not alone and this is incredibly important to help gain lost confidence and attain a feeling of worth once again.

7 – Tell your GP everything as soon as you feel your recovery may be going in the wrong direction.

brain 1abrain 1    

*My Poem

*A STROKE

I know it well

Not a swimming mode

Not a batting hit

Not a cane’s thrash

Not a clock’s tick

Not a bit of luck

Not a soothing hand

Not a way of pleasing

Just a nerve bending

Mind blowing

Body shattering

Terrible trip to hell

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Please kindly add your experience to help others’ – Use the – Leave a reply – Box

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JIM’S STORY

‘We call ourselves stroke survivors, not patients – that’s very important’

Jim Whyte was forced to give up work after having a stroke, but he’s proved that there is life after stroke.

Jim was getting out of a van when he suddenly felt his left leg turn to jelly. “I fell down, and my workmates got me a chair,” he says. “They brought me a cup of tea, but I couldn’t work out where the handle was to grasp it. Somehow I knew I’d had a stroke and asked them to take me to hospital.

“By the time I got there, I didn’t have any feeling in the left side of me. I felt like a lump of meat. I could hardly get out of the car.”

Doctors confirmed that Jim was right; he’d had a stroke. He spent the next 27 weeks in hospital undergoing rehabilitation and physiotherapy. “Luckily, my speech was still all right, though I’m sure my kids and grandchildren sometimes wish I’d be quiet!” he says. “During my time in hospital I regained around 85% use of my hand and arm. I’m actually very lucky.”

Jim had high blood pressure and was diabetic, which are both risk factors for stroke. However, he had never smoked and, due to his diabetes, was already following the healthy diet recommended for stroke survivors.

“My wife was a chef and she made sure we ate properly,” he says. He was put on tablets for high blood pressure and now has regular checks. “When I had the stroke, I had no idea I had high blood pressure,” he says.

Jim had his stroke more than 10 years ago. Although it forced him to give up work, he makes a point of leading an active, healthy lifestyle. He attends his local stroke survivors club every week, which includes exercise sessions, talks from experts and a blood-pressure check.

“It’s also a great place to share advice and make friends,” says Jim. “It’s good to talk about any problems you’re having with people who have been through the same thing. I’d recommend any stroke survivors to contact the Stroke Association to get information on their nearest club.” He also visits stroke survivors in hospital.

Jim believes there is life after stroke. “We call ourselves stroke survivors, not patients; that’s very important. When you’ve had a stroke, the most important thing to do is accept it. Unless you do that, it’s difficult to move forward. But once you do, you’ll realise that you can live a very happy, active life. I certainly do!”

Image

My Own Heart Failure & New Drug

heart image use

With encouragement from my lovely wife & terrific support from the fantastic Hindon Surgery and my wonderful local Stroke Clubs, I seemed to be really recovering, apart from the odd set-backs, incredibly well from my strokes. Thanks to a great healthy eating regimen & weight loss program guided by the Surgery’s lovely nurse, Stella, along with regular exercise on Davina, my indoor cycle, and dragging my happy little scrappy Dog, out in all weathers for walks I felt after nearly a year, I had turned the corner – Read – My Own Story 2014 -15 – for a full early account.

Unfortunately earlier serious heart surgery and a few heart attacks have messed up the heart’s pumping action and it is not functioning at all well, so I am now with Odstock’s Heart Failure Unit, while I am waiting for a special pacemaker to be fitted, Most days are a bit of a struggle and I now unfortunately find myself often confused, light-headed and befuddled as well as completely knackered daily, even before lunch, so my enthusiastic trips out and about have to be confined to the occasional hour here and there.

Like so many, I have been hugely impressed with the continual advancement and discoveries in modern medicine and hearing about the following very new drug, Entresto, has intrigued me no end and hopefully it might, in the near future, help me and others with chronic heart failure: I only hope NICE approves it, as has already, the USA & other parts of Europe.

ENTRESTO

entresto use1entresto2useentresto3 use

file:///C:/Users/User/Desktop/Novartis’%20new%20heart%20failure%20medicine%20Entresto(TM)%20recommended%20by%20CHMP%20for%20EU%20approval%20_%20Novartis.html

How Much Water & When?

How many people do you know say they do not want to drink anything before going to bed because if they do, they will need to get up in the night?

There will be a certain volume of water in your bladder anyway, so a top up before sleeping does not necessarily mean that will be the reason why you may have pee during the night.

If you ask your Doctor why you urinate so much at night time, he will tell you:

Gravity holds water in the lower part of your body, so when you are upright, that is why your legs swell.

When you lie down and are horizontal, your legs & lower body are level & in line with your kidneys, so this is the easiest time and best opportunity, for your organs to remove the unwanted waste water from your system.

A sufficient amount of water is needed to remove toxins from the body but remember water also keeps your cells hydrated & the blood circulating well, along with countless other useful jobs.

A Cardiac Specialist recommends the following minimum daily intake of water at these specific times, to allow your body to gain the most benefit:

2 Glasses when you wake up kicks start your internal organs.

1 Glass half an hour before a meal assists digestion.

1 Glass before taking a bath helps lower blood pressure.

1 Glass before bedtime can reduce the chance of a night time stroke or heart attack, as well as help prevent leg cramps.

Andrew Marr Had A Stroke – So Could You


Andrew Marr's Stroke
Jackie Ashley

Strokes among men aged 40 to 54 have rocketed in 15 years, yet the resources available to treat and rehabilitate are painfully scarce. This must change

Andrew Marr At HomeAndrew Marr at home in London, following his stroke. Photograph: Linda Nylind for the Guardian

Tuesday 12 May 2015 15.39 BSTLast modified on Wednesday 13 May 201500.00 BST

It’s 10 o’clock in the morning and my husband, the broadcaster Andrew Marr, has just finished yet another strenuous physiotherapy session. It’s more than two years since he had a major stroke, at the age of 53, but the long, slow path to recovery seems endless. With four sessions a week, every week, he makes small advances, though he still walks with a splint and a bad limp, and can barely use his left arm.

He is fortunate, being a broadcaster, that he can still work, waving just one arm around now instead of two. Not an hour goes by when Andrew isn’t acutely conscious of what happened.

There are bad days, but mostly he insists he has been lucky – above all because he can do what he loves. Had he been a plumber or a surgeon, the story would be very different.

The news that strokes among men of working age have shot up comes as no surprise. In the last 15 years, strokes among men aged 40 to 54 have rocketed by nearly 50%. For women of the same age, the figure is 30%.

We had always assumed that strokes were a problem for the elderly – that’s why, at first, we couldn’t believe that a fit and seemingly healthy man in his early fifties could be having a stroke.

I have become evangelical on this subject because I have witnessed so many lives devastated by stroke

Yet the hospital wards where Andrew spent many months in the immediate aftermath of his stroke were certainly not restricted to the over 70s. He recovered alongside working men, women who had just given birth, and even teenagers. Many were quickly doing well; many weren’t.

Stroke can affect anyone, and the results are shattering. Every stroke is different. A quarter of strokes are fatal. Half result in permanent disability.

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Part of the reason for this alarming increase in strokes among younger people can be put down to a sedentary lifestyle and a bad diet. We all know that as a nation, we are becoming increasingly obese.

But that’s not the whole story. The most obvious predictor of a stroke is high blood pressure, something that ought to be picked up in a routine visit to a doctor. But for those who are otherwise fit and well, and who take regular exercise, there may be no reason to check blood pressure. In Andrew’s case, he regularly ran eight miles round Richmond park, and was not overweight, so it never entered his head to check his blood pressure.

For him, it was over-exercising that caused the stroke. An intense session on a rowing machine caused a carotid artery to tear. And this is a surprisingly common cause of stroke.

We have met people who had a stroke after turning the head too quickly while reversing a car; who suffered a carotid tear at the hairdresser’s while leaning over the basin; and, of course, who over-exerted themselves in the gym. This isn’t to say that we need to fear a stroke in normal, everyday activities. But it’s certainly worth getting the blood pressure and cholesterol checked regularly.

What, though, are the implications of stroke becoming a disease of the active middle aged as well as of the elderly? For too long, when an elderly person suffers a stroke, there’s an attempt to help them back on their feet but a general acceptance that perhaps the time has now come for life in a wheelchair.

For people of working age, it is even more essential to regain as much mobility as possible rather than face 20, 30 or 40 years without being able to get back to work. Yet the resources available are painfully scarce.

Most stroke survivors are lucky if they receive any help at all after four months, and some get much less than that.

Some excellent charities, notably Arni (Action For Rehabilitation Following Neurological Injury) and the Stroke Association do their best, but they can’t reach everyone who is in need. Physiotherapy and rehabilitation have been at the sharp end of cuts to the NHS – a false economy, surely, when people can be helped to become active again, needing less care and ultimately returning to employment.

I’ve become evangelical about this: yes, I admit it, a bore. Check your blood pressure; check your cholesterol, I tell friends – particularly those fit young gym bunnies who think it can’t happen to them. Get checked. Regularly. And if there are any symptoms, such as a numb arm or leg, a drooping mouth, speech difficulties, or a “dizzy spell” and bad headache, I tell them: get help, fast.

The reason I bore on is that some illnesses are part of the lottery of life, but strokes are different. A few small checks really can save a devastating stroke. The latest statistics are depressing, if not surprising. But with just a little more public awareness, the figures for strokes among working-age people could be going down by 50%, rather than up.

SEE BELOW FOR FEATURE IN THE GUARDIAN

Andrew Marr At Home

FEATURE FROM THE GUARDIAN

ANDREW MARR AFTER THE STROKE

‘I’m going to be sweeter all round’

The TV presenter suffered a severe stroke after a strenuous workout in January. On the eve of his return to our screens he talks of his fight back to health
‘I’ll have to move more slowly now’: Andrew Marr at home in London last week.
Andrew Marr has always had the air of a man in a hurry, urgent with purpose and a sense of destination. On Twelfth Night, 6 January this year, however, the wheels came off the Andy Marr roadshow. Here, in his own words, is what happened. “It had been a not particularly busy day. I came home at six, cooked the family meal, and went out to the garden shed.”

When his ageing knees gave up on him, Marr, an avid runner, had installed a rowing machine. “I was pushing myself to do something like 5km in 20 minutes, which is a challenge even for a professional oarsman let alone a sedentary journalist,” he recalls, reliving his crisis. “I was really pleased with myself but at the same moment I felt I’d done something stupid. It wasn’t painful but I knew something had gone wrong.”

Marr returned to the house to serve the family meal. “Now I felt sick,” he continues, “and I had this blinding headache. Flashes and a cascade of brilliantly coloured lights. I thought it was a migraine. Really, I had no idea. My grandmother, an indomitable woman, had suffered a stroke, which I associated with something that happened to older people. “

Jackie, his wife, seeing that he was unwell, tried to get him to go to casualty but Marr refused. “We all sat and watched a silly film [The American starring George Clooney]. Then I went to bed, took some painkillers and fell asleep. The next thing I remember is waking up in the morning lying on the floor, having fallen out of bed. I remember thinking, This is a really stupid thing to have happened – just an intense feeling of irritation – such a bad way to start the day. I still had no idea what was going on. Eventually I did struggle to my feet but I could not lift my leg to get into the shower. When I looked in the mirror and saw the downward droop of my mouth I realised I’d had a stroke.”

The word sounds so inoffensive, a synonym for “brush” or “caress”. You “stroke” a baby or a lover, but its old English origin connotes “a blow” and “a calamity”. Make no mistake, stroke is deadly. Next to cardiac disease and cancer it’s the most common cause of death in the western world. Approximately one third of those who suffer a stroke will die, often from a second subsequent assault on the brain. Of those who survive, about half will be left with permanent and severe disability. The physical consequence of stroke is a horrifying catalogue of damage that includes personality changes, impaired sensation, paralysis, incontinence, visual or language problems, deafness, blindness and seizures.

In Britain about 150,000 people a year will have some kind of stroke. That’s one every five minutes. On this January morning, with Marr’s fate poised on a knife edge, the family had telephoned for an ambulance. All Jackie could do was wait. “I was terrified,” she remembers, joining our conversation with a solicitous air. “I thought he was going to die.”

Andrew Marr has just turned 54, which is young to have a stroke but not exceptional. Although stroke is associated with old age, about 20% occur under the age of 40, sometimes to teenagers and, more horrifyingly, to young mothers. As a stroke sufferer, Marr had crossed from what Susan Sontag (in Illness As Metaphor) calls “the kingdom of the well” to “the kingdom of the sick”. He did not yet know this new country. Soon, however, it would be dawning on him that he was no longer the person he’d been on New Year’s Eve. Willy nilly, he would have to acknowledge his forced emigration from good health.

Because, 18 years ago, I too suffered a severe cerebral haemorrhage, and survived. I wrote a book about it, My Year Off, and ever since have been invited to counsel some well-known stroke sufferers, from the avant-garde theatre director Max Stafford-Clark, to the Tory grandee Douglas Hurd, and the film star Kirk Douglas. When Marr, whom I know slightly from his time on the Observer, was struck down, I wrote offering support. His wife, Jackie Ashley, is a columnist on our sister paper the Guardian. I knew from experience that the burden of convalescence falls on partners and children, placing a strain on even the most happy families.

So, not long after, I found myself one cold winter’s night being shown into Marr’s private room on the sixth floor of the Charing Cross hospital. Like all visitors to a new patient’s bedside, I did not know quite what to expect. What kind of stroke had he suffered? The crucial question was: on which side of Marr’s brain had the stroke occurred, left or right? The two halves of the brain have different functions. The right brain specialises in some aspects of emotional processing and musical perception. The left side deals with reading, writing, numeracy and language. If you must have a stroke, thank your stars it’s right side not left. As a broadcaster, Marr was lucky, with a right side haemorrhage: he would retain his language and memory.

Left or right side, however, this is still a devastating assault. The brain is only 1.4 kg of grey matter. You could hold it in the palm of your hand. But it’s you – your command post, your HQ, your speech and movement, your window on the world. There’s no escaping a stroke’s impact on your consciousness. More than an “insult to the brain”, it’s an earthquake.

What would I find? A drooling vegetable or a perky Scot ? In fact, neither: Marr was sitting up in bed with his laptop, subdued, serious and slightly remote. There was a pile of books on the bed, and he was working. Barely a fortnight after his stroke, his speech was remarkably strong, his mind intact and his zest for life undimmed. He began to reel off the literary and journalistic projects he was juggling. It struck me at once that he was unwilling, or unable, to acknowledge what had happened. I gave my routine homily about future limits, offered what advice I could, and said goodbye, mindful of the likely fatigue he would be suffering. I heard later that he had been dispirited by my visit. However, eight months on, he has agreed to this interview, so something must have struck a chord, somewhere.

We’re sitting in the garden of the family home on a Sunday afternoon, with Marr’s exceptional recovery a testament to his dogged resilience. Still, I’m curious to find out how soon he came to terms with what had happened. What was it like for such a self-confident, even abrasive, character, to be brought so low? At this point, Ashley interrupts to comment, “I think it’s still sinking in.” Her interventions will punctuate the conversation that follows. I sense that there’s a lot at stake here between them, as you’d expect after such a crisis. As adults, we forget that we live in our bodies. The sudden and unexpected failure of the body is a shocking catastrophe that threatens the flimsy edifice we call the “self”, with a corresponding strain on intimacy.

It’s both shocking and confusing. If you survive a stroke, a common first reaction is euphoria. Marr, man of purposeful optimism, and buoyant with self-belief, decided he was “going to be fine, very soon”. Actually, the aftermath is often a rollercoaster. He now admits he had “completely unrealistic expectations about what was going to happen”. He even, madly, began to plan a holiday to St Petersburg. Ashley, meanwhile, was coping with the long faces of her husband’s doctors and the prospect, as she puts it, with fine English understatement, that “This could be it”. On at least two occasions she was told to prepare herself for the worst.

Marr, who mostly slept through his brushes with death, was oblivious to the dramas of his bedside and the potentially “catastrophic side-effects” of his post-stroke treatment. When he came round, he remembers riding another high. The news had broken, and it was everywhere. “I was overwhelmed,” he says. “Messages. Flowers (from Annie Lennox, Rupert Everett and Helen Mirren).” He smiles. “A food parcel from Prince Andrew.” Surreal as this phase undoubtedly was, Marr remembers it as “quite pleasing”, a nice validation of his battered self-image.

His boyish self-gratification at this attention is so palpable that I wonder if there had been a darker side. I, for instance, remember being very tearful in hospital, a common side-effect of a stroke. But Marr says he remained dry-eyed. “I don’t do tears.” Like the man on the couch in the New Yorker cartoon, he seems to believe that his personal life is none of his own damn business. Or perhaps he’s unwilling to speak candidly in front of his wife, or afraid to rouse the Cerberus of his unconscious mind. He was, however, not wholly without feeling. “I worried about my physical state. I was very confused. A lot of things I blanked out but occasionally I did think to myself, Is this the future?”

Ashley takes up the story in a wifely way. “It was very scary. No one of course can tell you what will happen, or how long it will take. Different doctors tell you different things. I often asked myself, ‘Will he be the same person?”’

Marr, in fact, became even more like himself, dealing with his stroke as he has dealt with all life’s challenges, by coming out fighting. Brushing aside any assault on his inner “self”, he filed this emergency under “physique”, not “psychology”, a stunning assertion of self-will. Within about three weeks, he says, “I was doing lots of physio. It was very, very hard, but my physio and OT nurses were superb, always optimistic and very cheerful.” He pays tribute to his immediate circle, “I’ve been very lucky in all respects. With Jackie and the children, and with a wonderful circle of very close friends.”

This seems the moment to introduce a vexed question from the past. As many people know, an extramarital affair and Marr’s mistaken belief that he had fathered another child, an episode he tried to suppress with super-injunctions, had placed his marriage under strain. How were Marr and Ashley doing now?

Hardly missing a beat, Marr tells me: “Jackie does not like the notion that she suddenly sprouted wings and became a Florence Nightingale figure.”

“If we need to go back over that stuff,” says Ashley, resolute and phlegmatic, “our problems were from 10 years ago. We had moved on anyway.” A beat. “I suppose.”

“In these crises,” Marr interrupts, “you are either brought together or blown apart, and we were brought together.”

They certainly feel like a couple who have weathered a lot, and he jokes that his wife now has him where she wants him, under control. Anyway, Marr’s stroke has the virtue of putting him beyond reproach. Moreover, it has given him a platform on which to demonstrate his fighting spirit. Finally, after a terrible year, through sheer grit, he has not only survived, he has begun to make a return to his old life. Further, he has been blessed by employers only too eager to adjust their schedules to his absence.

Tune into BBC1 on Sunday morning and you will find the corporation complicit in Marr’s convalescent strategy of stout denial. At 9am the channel projects its own version of Groundhog Day: a vigorous Andrew Marr striding purposefully into the studio of the show that still bears his name. Always a contrived fiction, this sequence juxtaposes a poignant fantasy of a fully fit presenter with the merciless world of hard news. Once the show starts, someone definitively not Marr – Jeremy Vine, Eddie Mair, or Sophie Raworth – will stand in for the convalescent host, piloting each episode through shoals of Sunday morning speculation, showbiz gossip, the forthcoming weather and some agenda-setting interview with a big beast from Westminster.

I find Marr’s exit from his long sequestration, signalled by this exclusive interview, utterly in character. He is coercing his stroke and its after-effects to his career while at the same time forcing himself, he says, to slow down. “I had been working at an insane rate,” he goes on. “That was my fault. It was what I chose to do. I had this idea that I could do more than anybody else.” He breaks off to remind me of his schedule: Start the Week, The Andrew Marr Show, History of the World, the overseas filming…

“Eighteen-hour days,” his wife interrupts. “Seven days a week.”

“In hospital I remember thinking,” Marr continues, “that I have gobbled life too much. I have gone racing from one thing to the next and never enjoyed the moment. From now on,” he concludes, with slightly grim relish, “I’m going to suck the juice out of life.”

Did he experience any moment of spiritual revelation?

“Am I religious? No. Do I believe in anything? No. I just don’t have that bump.” Very matter-of-fact, he adds: “My family are religious and go to church.” A pause. “And I went to church as a boy.”

For a moment he seems strangely young and vulnerable. I remember that stroke units like to promote psychotherapy. Did anyone suggest he talk to someone about his illness ? “There was a bit of that.” Marr shakes his head. “But I’m not that way.”

Ashley breaks in with a hearty laugh. “What he says is: ‘I’m not depressed. I was depressed before, but I’m not now.'”

As Marr and his wife chuckle about this together, I have a picture of a man who has found himself repurposed by his extraordinary bad luck. I suspect that the overachieving Scots outsider has been strangely re-energised by his cerebral crisis. After all, it confirms what he has always known: that it’s Andy Marr contra mundi. Of course, Marr won’t go down this avenue, cheerfully claiming to be indifferent to the issues of his private self.

“I’ve got no inner life,” he declares merrily, something that is plainly untrue. “I’ve no interest in exploring my murky depths. Yes, of course, I’ve been searching for meaning, but not much.”

Andrew Marr
‘Walking slowly’: Andrew Marr photographed last week in the garden of his London home. Photograph: Phil Fisk for the Observer Phil Fisk/Observer
Did he ever feel punished by his fate ? He pauses. “That’s an appealing thought but I don’t think I did. I’m an irreligious Calvinist. I never thought, as some people do, Why me? I never asked that question. No, I thought, Of course me! I’m exactly the kind of person who would have a stroke. I’ve had a life of overreaching. I’ve not been particularly nice to people around me, and have obsessed about my public profile. I haven’t spent enough time talking to my children.” He slips, tellingly, into the past tense. “I was an impatient little bugger and often too abrasive. I’m just going to have to move more slowly now.”

Suddenly reflective, Marr now confides that he has been reading the poetry of George Herbert, and adds: “What I do instead of praying or meditation is that I draw. In hospital I couldn’t but in late spring I found I wanted to draw again.” This, he concludes, is one sign of some inner communion with what he calls “the life force”.

Beneath the eye of eternity, he becomes momentarily modest: “I don’t think I’m particularly brave or have had a specially extraordinary experience. I’m in my mid-50s and I’ve joined a larger world of pain.” Ashley interrupts to insist: “You’re more sensitised now, more tuned into the world than before.” From one of his hospital visits Marr recalls a woman, eight months pregnant, who had suffered a stroke: “There are people far worse off than me who are so incredibly brave and cheerful. I get these heart-rending letters with some awful stories.”

Marr has nothing but praise for the NHS, remembering a headline from the Times that read “NHS: No one is safe”. “I thought, This is bonkers. I’ve just had a night of the most dedicated treatment from a team of doctors and nurses. It was NHS doctors who saved my life. Their expertise is extraordinary. I don’t believe there is anywhere in the world as good as the best of the NHS. At the National [hospital for neurology in London], at Charing Cross, at Queen Mary’s, I’ve had an extraordinary level of care and attention.” He accepts it’s not a perfect picture. While the NHS “is fantastic in London and the big cities”, the system is not so good at the aftercare stage – the physio and occupational therapy. “Too many people get turned out of hospital and dumped in wheelchairs.”

Proactive to his fingertips, Marr has met this problem by signing up with Tom Balchin and his controversial ARNI regime (the Action for Rehabilitation from Neurological Injury is a super-vigorous physio regime.) He has also enlisted in an imaginative scheme, pioneered by the National, in which groups of in-patients are lodged in a specially designed hotel and bussed back each day for treatment. “I was determined,” he says of this programme, “that I was not going to end up on a scrapheap, determined I was going to go back to work.” Seven months after his stroke he can now function from day to day but walks slowly and with a limp. His left arm and hand remain paralysed, a source of deep frustration. Unable to touch type, he uses the Dragon voice recognition software.

“I’m going back to the Sunday show in September and will see how it goes,” he says, with only a hint of nervousness about the risks involved. “I’m going to put more time and effort into it, renew my lobby pass and return to my Westminster haunts.”

It’s not clear what Ashley thinks about this. So I ask her: “Has he changed?”

“No.” She smiles. “Not really.”

“Not enough!” Marr exclaims. “I’ve always been a believer in getting your head down and getting on with it. My grandfather used to say, ‘Hard work never killed anyone.’ Well, I suppose I’ve done my best to disprove his theory.”

For now, he’s listening to Bach cantatas, reading Proust – “my cultural life has become much more important to me” – and preparing to visit the Peter Doig exhibition in Edinburgh. “I feel more alive again,” he says. “All this has made me, I hope, kinder and nicer. Over the years I’ve had lots of fights with lots of people but now I’m going to try reconciling myself to them. Life is too short for feuds and battles. I’ll aim to be sweeter all round.”

Marr won’t cease to be a loner or a struggler. When I ask how he sees his future, he replies: “Do less, better.” He pauses in thought. “Quite a bit less, a lot better.” He looks across the garden to the scene of his near-fatal workout. “One day I want to go and sit in a shed and paint all day. But not yet.”

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Why STROVE?

blockage

STROVE or strokesurvivorsuk has been set up by me, a retired brain addled ex-inventor (showing age, was even on Tomorrow’s World) & knackered part time ex-journalist, who, only a few years ago, had three heart attacks followed by a triple bypass and the removal of an aneurysm, and, rather unluckily, at the end of 2014, had a nasty lacunar stroke followed by two smaller ones 6 weeks later.

Obviously the body must have been really fed up with the abuse I had given it over the years and took its revenge: One which was not so sweet!

STROVE – strokesurvivorsuk, is an easy to use, free, one-stop-shop, simply laid out on this blog, to enable you as a stroke survivor, your family, friends and carers, to communicate locally, nationally and internationally, with each other. The blog has menus on the top left and right of its Home Page, which when clicked, will reveal helpful stroke information pages, as well as comments, postings and other relevant ways to seek help, advice, encouragement and support from others often in similar circumstances as yourself.

Over the months, a list of national Stroke Clubs, Exercise Classes, Venues etc. will be added to the STROVE blog, linking it to STROCS – Stroke Clubs UK – Click  – http://wp.me/p6mVzk-3 – which will display Clubs, local to you, on individual pages. If you would like a page created for your club, Free Of Charge, please email me.

STROVE – strokesurvivorsuk is non profit making and needs you to help in its creation, so use it as if it is your own, by emailing your feelings, frustrations, hopes, thoughts, poems, photographs and anything else you think may benefit or even entertain others.

Email strove@email.com or strokesurvivorsuk@email.com or 01722 717814

The Brilliant Blackmore Stroke Club

I had a terrific day today at the brilliant Blackmore Stroke Club. I was met with a wonderfully warm welcome from everybody and the atmosphere was so friendly and inviting, that I shall be making a point of coming to every meeting.

The Brilliant Blackmore Stroke Club (3)CLICK ON VOLUNTEERS & HELPERS TO VISIT THE BLACKMORE CLUB  WEB PAGE

The volunteers and helpers were so caring and understanding that we all felt so much at ease and never awkward or out of place. The home made lunch was simply delicious and the apple crumble was out of this world. This is a very, very special Club!

The Brilliant Blackmore Stroke Club (1) The Brilliant Blackmore Stroke Club (2)The Brilliant Blackmore Stroke Club (4)The Brilliant Blackmore Stroke Club (8)The Brilliant Blackmore Stroke Club (10) The Brilliant Blackmore Stroke Club (11)

The Stroke Association, sadly short on battery life, then joined us to show Club members how to use their new Dorset contact website, which in order to now activate, seems to need logging into with your personal details or even profile if you want.

The Brilliant Blackmore Stroke Club (5)The Brilliant Blackmore Stroke Club (6)The Brilliant Blackmore Stroke Club (7)The Brilliant Blackmore Stroke Club (9)

To me, it gives the impression that it is simply a way of gathering data from survivors in return for information. The council has apparently paid the Stroke Association to come up with this, but as some members stated, ‘At what cost to the end users, when that money could be put towards better use in helping with one to one contact advice and comfort for recent survivors just leaving hospital, or when they return home?’

OK it only costs you the sum of handing over your contact details, but how long will it be before we are being bombarded with all kinds of unsolicited offers, or even nudges for donations etc.? If, as they say, they want it to be a way for survivors to share experiences then a free forum would be a far simpler way to do this.

Another survivor and Club member then said he felt the Stroke Association gave nothing to the Club except a receipt when it took the £25 yearly affiliation fee. He wondered what the heck happened to all the money the Association raised and why did they have the nerve to take 50% of everything the Club raised from events etc? Why could the Association not even help with, for example, a projector or other equipment to help with Club talks or demonstrations? I must say that I did note that at the joint gathering the Association had last week in Wilton, they had a full media presentation with a controller.

As I, and many others including five of those present today, have expressed a genuinely concerned frustration, that the Stroke Association does not give the needed amount of support and funding to help those survivors on the home front and it should forget about spending so much money on self-promoting events, assemblies & jollies, completely out of reach for the average stroke survivors & carers. They need more staff, instead of relying on Club, or other, volunteers, to re-assure, advise & encourage stroke patients face to face and not to look at an on-line presence as a cheap answer!

Wilton Focus On Stroke

Wilton 20/10/2015 Focus on Stroke

An interesting & informative easy going morning hosted by The Stroke Association.

Wiltshire Council’s representatives, concerned with health & care for the less able & elderly in the community, were also present, alongside those wanting to help stroke survivors & carers with advice, courses, items etc..

Delicious refreshments & lunch were kindly provided in between talks & videos.

I loved Reuben’s story of his recovery & his situation today, Wiltshire Council’s well budgeted strategy on keeping more of us older ones at home rather than in hospitals, looks fantastic and so sensible. I was impressed with the talk on how the Stroke Association helped certain survivors with special grants, but I wonder exactly how many, locally, either knew about or actually received, such obviously much needed financial assistance.

The video of the Stroke Association’s award ceremony in London with the lovely Biggins presenting, who himself admits would even go along to the opening of an envelope, was a little drawn out with far too much own trumpet blowing.

Making me ask, yet again, why the Stroke Association spends so much money on events, assemblies & jollies, totally out of reach of & inaccessible for, physically & logistically, the average stroke survivors & carers; they should be using that money to increase the number of non head office employees, simply to visit, re-assure, advise & encourage stroke patients who have made it home, or others just about to leave hospital. It should not be left only to volunteers, like the terrific selfless Reuben, who give their free time to visit our country’s ever bulging stroke wards. Local Stroke Club helpers & friends, should not have to transport survivors to & from their Clubs, which are often members’ only way to have fun and socialise, as well as gain confidence & self esteem, on a regular basis.

These wonderful Stroke Clubs need far more recognition & should be getting loads of financial help, encouragement & expertise to promote themselves & their activities. Associations, GPs, Councils & the NHS should really wake up & realise such Clubs could be used to truly benefit the community, even more than they currently are. After all, it would not cost the earth to assist such fabulous, well established dedicated groups of people. Think on this, Stroke Association HQ, when you charge Stroke Clubs £25, just to have your affiliation; especially when many Club volunteers actually visit, off their own backs at their own expense, new survivors at home: Ones they have heard about, by word of mouth, locally, with no reference from the Stroke Association or NHS.

We then had a Stroke Association area controller asking us for positive or negative thoughts: Two of us from personal experiences, one 10 months ago & another just recently, complained that whatever, if ever, leaflets handed out, were too wordy, and the last thing on your mind to read when battling to survive the effects of a nasty event. All you want are words of sympathy or empathy from a real human being; not from a piece of paper. As for information about local Stroke Clubs, we were told nothing: We had to find out for ourselves, months later, of their existence.

Again, Stroke Association, put far less money into your mountainous millions of expensive brochures, ridiculous plaques & awards: Use it to get more front line people, like Emma & Beth in our area, with  the ability to communicate lovingly with survivors & their carers.

Due to medical problems, I missed the earlier speakers during the first two hours, so perhaps they might like to email me with a run down of their speeches, although I will be asking my friends from the Wilton Forum Stroke Club, a table-full of whom can be seen here enjoying the event, for a complete feed back of the entire event.

  

The Stroke Association Answers STROVE

 

Sarah has given her answers below from questions previously posted to the Stroke Association. I hope they help put the minds at rest of the 18 survivors & club members who asked STROVE strokesurvivorsuk to submit them to its site.

*Sadly some club members have still been unable to find all the answers, particularly because the finances page of their website is unobtainable to those outside the charity.

*I have, as asked, made a new Comment listing the questions A) to D) which some feel have not been answered with facts.

Submitted on 2015/10/19 at 2:25 pm

My name is Sarah Day and I work for the Stroke Association as Area Manager for Dorset, Wiltshire and Swindon. We have put together the following answers to your questions and hope they give you the information you need. Please do feel free to contact me directly should you need anything further and I will of course do my best to assist.

Why does the Stroke Association have so many directors (trustees)?
The Stroke Association has 23 Trustees. This is an advisory board for the Charity Directors and is made up of medical experts and business professionals who help to guide the organisation, advise on research and strategy.*

How much are these part time directors (trustees) paid, if anything?
Our Trustees do not get paid. The charity follows the Charity Commission guidelines on paying Trustee’s expenses. They give up a lot of their free time and time out of their paid work to advise the charity. As with any volunteer their expenses are covered by the charity.

A) How much are the main, full time, directors, including CEO paid?
The Stroke Association has just six Executive Directors who are responsible for delivering the charities services and business in accordance with the strategy, agreed by the board of trustees.
•Jon Barrick, Chief Executive
•Dominic Brand, Director of External Affairs & Marketing
•Bridget Bergin, UK Director, Life After Stroke Services
•Jim Swindells, Director of Fundraising
•Roy Quiddington, Director of Finance & Resources
•Dale Webb, Director of Research & Information
For more information please go to https://www.stroke.org.uk/what-we-do/what-we-do/our-impact

Are there any conflicts of interest with any of these part time directors (trustees) & their other jobs or directorships?
When becoming a Trustee of the Stroke Association everyone is asked to share any potential conflicts of interest. This is reviewed annually to ensure any new activity is assessed.

B) How is the money currently raised from donations being spent?

For information please visit our website: https://www.stroke.org.uk/our-finances

C) How much does it cost to run The Stroke Association’s London HQ and 800 plus staff?
As a charity it is always important to ensure our funds reach the people who really need them.

In 2014 we had 765 members of staff who are paid £18,449,000 in total. This is an average salary of £24,116.These staff are based throughout the UK.
For more information about this, please go tohttps://www.stroke.org.uk/our-finances

D) How many stroke survivors leaving local hospitals were referred to Stroke Clubs so far this year?
Whilst we cannot give exact figures on this, our coordinators ensure that those stroke survivors or carers accessing our services have full knowledge and contact details of all local support groups should they need them.
We have even assisted some clubs/groups to produce flyers so that we can effectively signpost people to them.
We do not give details of stroke survivors and carers directly to the clubs and groups, unless they have asked us to. This enables people who are able to make the choice to go to a group or club for themselves. We also use our events and national articles in our Club Together newsletter, to raise the profiles of these groups and the work they do to support people locally.

Has the Association’s new local administrator freed up staff to make more home visits? If so, by what percentage?
The role for an administrator is to go out to advert very soon, so at this time we cannot comment specifically on this. However, what we do know is that their role will enable our coordinators to see and speak to more people affected by stroke.
Some stroke survivors we meet will require a local coordinator visiting them at home, and those who do will always get this. However, there are also many stroke survivors for whom a home visit is not required. This can be for many reasons, for example, some stroke survivors would prefer a telephone call with us, or would prefer to look at our information online.
We are also in the process of offering group information sessions & these will allow us the ability to see more people and discuss their needs whilst also offering support from peers. Once we have more information on this, we would be more than happy to discuss where and when they are happening.

Met Association’s Sarah Day

‘Today I had a great meeting with the Stroke Association’s area manager, Sarah Day and it was a total pleasure. I learnt an enormous amount and I was impressed with her overwhelming energy, wrapped around a huge amount of sincerity & integrity.

Sarah joined the Stroke Association over 10 years ago after a serious stroke happened in her family:

She started firstly as a volunteer visiting survivors at home, gradually working her way up to full time area manager by putting her well founded enthusiasm behind the cleverly branded ‘Purple Association’. She clearly eats, drinks and sleeps the Stroke Association and along with her local part time co-ordinators Emma & Beth, they all work incredibly hard, with very limited financial resources, compared with the other majority of charities.

An ever increasing workload means there are just not enough hours in the day for any of them.

However, I do not understand how a charity, with tens of millions in donations, has such front line employees on a part time, rather than full time, basis. With the obvious huge demands on their abilities, it just does not make sense: I have to wonder how much those higher up in the pecking order pay themselves & how much it costs to maintain a prestigious London HQ? 

Sarah could not say how many millions in donations were raised last year and on what research etc. the money was spent, but she did emphasise quite rightly that making more and more people aware of strokes and their effects, was one of the Association’s key roles and before they came on the scene, a stroke was often, very wrongly, made light of by a ‘stroke uneducated’ society.

She unfortunately could not tell me off hand, how many of Odstock’s last few months’ discharged stroke patients were put in contact with Stroke Clubs, or visited personally by the Association’s employees. However she was surprised how so few wanted, or in many cases needed, any contact with, or help from, anybody outside their immediate family.

Why discharged survivors, like myself, might not have been made aware of local Stroke Clubs, was, she explained, because last year, many simply could not be; Odstock, concerned about data protection and patient confidentiality, would, for quite a while, not pass over any referrals to the Association. This has apparently been rectified and with a new Stroke Directory which is due out soon, there should now be much more awareness for survivors, as well as contact details for local Stroke Clubs.

I thought it was a good idea to bring all the regional Stroke Clubs together with a big summer BBQ fun gathering and Sarah was certainly up for it, so fingers crossed!

If Stroke Clubs do use all they get in a Stroke Association affiliation package, then apparently they do get value for money & could save up to £700. For some, affiliation might be unsuitable and it’s their choice to make.

With money needed to fund vital research linked to strokes, then surely the Stroke Association is a good way to channel that money, which Sarah believes, quite rightly, is being handled in the correct manner.

However, I still think the Stroke Association needs many more foot soldiers to reassure survivors at home, fewer costly individual glossy leaflets (hopefully solved by their coming new Stroke Directory), and better, more regular, communication with, and free support for, local Stroke Clubs. Though money appears to always be the governing factor, common sense and valuing highly & supporting fully, those out there helping, does work wonders.

Just about everybody in the UK is able, mostly because of television & media campaigns, to recognise somebody having a stroke, how to react to this, and what to be prepared for, in most cases, after the event. We have the Stroke Association to thank for that.

However, finances permitting, to concentrate more intensely on the survivors at home, their care, their carers and the well-being of both, must be the most important issue for the Association. Only so much can be spent on stroke awareness & research; with drugs companies paying a major role in the latter, hopefully some more money can be released to help those struggling at home with the impact of a stroke?

I also hope that the unanswered questions, not covered by Sarah’s job description, asked by local stroke sufferers on my previous postings and comments, will be fully answered by those in the relevant positions. I trust they will not be too busy to do so!

As a result of my meeting with Sarah, I am now waving the purple flag!’

Never Lose Hope

The Wonderful Friendly & Fun Wilton Stroke Club

MY FIRST VISIT – ‘I had a fantastic morning with a terrific group of fun loving, incredibly warm, friendly & welcoming survivors, volunteer helpers, and friends. I adored the cakes & fluffy meringues with cream, all washed down with a perfect cuppa. Lots of laughter & chat, board games, creative art play & a brilliant quiz from Sarah, which our table would have won, if only I hadn’t made a mistake with ticking the wrong answer. I cannot wait to see them all again and next week they have arranged a coach trip to Poole Potteries with a stop over for a meal. I am so looking forward to it! What could be better than enjoying the company of such a lovely bunch of people on a magical away day?’

NEVER LOSE HOPE – ‘What I learnt yesterday at the Wilton Stroke Club, from a very sociable, but self labelled unsociable, Richard, with whom I chatted a great deal of the time, is that when you ’cross over‘ into the far side of the world of strokes everything becomes so confusing and unpredictable. Like me, he could not explain why, after being unable to speak properly for ages, he suddenly woke up one morning being able to rattle off a whole host of words which could be easily understood.

How come, it’s totally unfathomable? Of course the answer is, as so often stated by the medical profession, ’who knows‘!

Why when we cannot remember what happened yesterday, or what time it is now, we can, in incredible detail, remember huge segments of early childhood or teens?

The main point is, never lose HOPE if your world is shattered and turned upside down by a stroke.

You can lose possessions, money, and sadly, even friendship & love. NEVER lose HOPE! If you do, all is lost!’

Tim Curry At Tony Awards

Tim Curry makes rare public appearance after suffering stroke as he accepts Lifetime Achievement Award at Tony Awards party

But despite the health woes, the 69-year-old was in good spirits as he was honoured with The Actors Fund Lifetime Achievement Award on Sunday at the Tony Awards Viewing Party in Los Angeles.

Good humor: The Home Alone 2 star cited his humor for helping him through his health crisis

Speaking to Los Angeles magazine, he said that he has been ‘doing well’ and was ‘looking forward’ to receiving the honour.

Honoured: Tim Curry made a rare public appearance as he was honoured with The Actors Fund Lifetime Achievement Award on Sunday at the Tony Awards Viewing Party in Los Angeles

‘I’ve done a few benefits for the Actors Fund and I think it’s a marvelous organization. I hope not to have to use it,’ the acclaimed character actor quipped.

The Actors Fund provides assistance with the cost and arrangements of funerals and burials.

And it is the Legend star’s sense of humour that has helped helped him to remain optimistic since his July 2012 stroke when he collapsed at his Los Angeles home.

‘It’s not tough to maintain,’ he explained. ‘It is just part of my DNA.’

The magazine noted that his ‘speech is slowed a bit.’

Tim is best known for his role as the brilliantly mad transvestite scientist Dr Frank N Furter in the The 1975 Rocky Horror Show.

He first starred in the original 1973 London production, and continued to play the part on Broadway before playing the same character in the 1975 film.

On the role that catapulted him to stardom, he told Los Angeles magazine that he looks at the film’s success ‘with a sort of bemused tolerance.’

He continued: ‘It’s neither a blessing nor a curse. I was lucky to get it.’

For many years he rarely discussed the movie, fearing he would be typecast.

Good humour: The Home Alone 2 star cited his humour for helping him through his health crisis

Tim recalled opening night during his Broadway debut in The Rocky Horror Picture Show as ‘very exciting’ but found its critics to be far too harsh.

‘I had to go on the Today Show the next day and they read the reviews – which were appalling,’ he explained. ‘That brought me down. It was very cruel.’

The reviews described his performance as ‘a mixture of Joan Crawford and Burt Lancaster’ and ‘Mick Jagger, David Bowie and Marc Bolan all in one.’

However, he won over the Broadway community in 1981 when he was nominated for a Tony Award for the lead role in the play Amadeus.

‘It was a brilliant play and a terrific production. And a wonderful part,’ he said of portraying Mozart.

‘The big problem is not to make him as loony as he is, but to make him sympathetic as well.’

Between 2004 and 2007 he played King Arthur in the Monty Python musical Spamalot on stage in Chicago, Broadway and the West End.

Some of his stage credits include What About Dick? My Favorite Year and Travesties, among others.

In 2011 he was scheduled to appear in Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead, however he withdrew from the production at the last minute citing ill health.

Meanwhile, at the viewing party, the veteran actor arrived in a black suit and was seated in a wheelchair.

He joins Theodore Bikel, Alfred Molina and Joe Morton as recipients of the same lifetime achievement award.

Time Wrap! He first starred in the original 1973 London production, and continued to play the part on Broadway before playing the same character in the 1975 film

‘It means that it just sort of solidifies the kind of work the American acting community has given me for years now,’ he said of the honour.

‘It’s very gracious of them, I think. I was thrilled when they told me and I am thrilled now.’

When asked what life would be like for him if it reflected the theatre, he said: ‘Scary. Well the theatre is scary. And the longer the time in between the periods in the theatre, the scarier it gets.

Adding: ‘Life isn’t meant to be scary. It’s to be celebratory. In which case, it would be like the theatre. I think of that as a celebration of life.’

Star Trek’s Star Has Stroke

Star Trek’s Lt Uhura Suffers StrokeNichelle NicholsNichols is reported to be “in good spirits” with only minor signs of mobility loss

Nichelle Nichols, best known for her role as Lieutenant Uhura in TV’s Star Trek, has suffered a stroke.

“Last night while at her home in LA, Nichelle Nichols suffered from a mild stroke,” her agent Zach McGinnis wrote on Facebook.

“She is currently undergoing testing to determine how severe the stroke was. Please keep her in your thoughts.”

The 82-year-old was handpicked by Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry to appear in the original 1960s TV series.

Her casting as fourth in command of the USS Enterprise broke many racial barriers, with Nichols becoming the first black woman to share a kiss with a white man (William Shatner) on US television in 1966.

Up until that point, African-American actresses had typically been cast in servile roles, playing housekeepers or maids. Fans of her Star Trek role reportedly included Dr Martin Luther King.

In an updated post on Facebook, McGinnis reported that Nichols was “awake, eating, in good spirits and able to have full conversations.”

“Her right side has shown minor signs of mobility loss but she is not showing any signs of paralyses.

“We greatly appreciate all of the love and support her fans are showing at this time.”

Heroes role

The original Star Trek series ran for three years and continues to have a cult following.

Nichols went on to star in several Star Trek films, between 1979 and 1991, including The Wrath of Khan and The Final Frontier.

Later in her career, she played the role of Nana Dawson in the 2006 TV show Heroes and made a guest appearance on Futurama alongside fellow Star Trek regular George Takei in 2002.

She remains a working actress, and reported last month on Facebook that she had begun filming a sequel to Surge of Power.

She was scheduled to appear at New Jersey’s Eternal Con – dubbed “the Long Island Comic Con” – on 13 and 14 June.

Rise In Number Of Strokes

 STROKES RISING AMONG PEOPLE OF WORKING AGE WARNS CHARITY

  • 12 May 2015
Stroke

There has been a worrying rise in the number of working-age men and women having strokes, a charity has warned.

In England in 2014 there were 6,221 hospital admissions for men aged 40-54 – a rise of 1,961 on 14 years earlier, a Stroke Association study shows.

Experts said unhealthy lifestyles were partly to blame for the rise, though the growing population and changes to hospital practice also played a part.

Overall the rate of strokes is going down in the UK, however.

Researchers say based on their findings strokes should not be considered as a disease of the old.

Huge costs

Strokes are caused by blood clots or bleeds to the brain and can lead to long-lasting disability.

The majority occur in people aged over 65, and though rates are decreasing in this group, this report suggests growing numbers of younger people are at risk.

Experts analysed national hospital admission data spanning 2000 to 2014.

Trends for people in their 40s and early 50s appeared to be getting worse.

In women aged 40-54, there were an extra 1,075 strokes recorded in 2014, compared with 2000.

Experts said growing obesity levels, sedentary lives and unhealthy diets – which raise the risks of dangerous blood clots – all played a part.

And they argued strokes among this age group had long-lasting personal and financial impacts on individuals and their families, as well as on the economy.

Recovering patients can find it difficult to return to work and should have more support from employers, the report suggests.

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Jon Barrick, of the Stroke Association, said: “These figures show stroke can no longer be seen as a disease of older people.

“There is an alarming increase in the numbers of people having a stroke in working age.

“This comes at a huge cost, not only to the individual, but also to their families and to health and social care services.”

Alastair Morely was 34 years old when he had a stoke on New Year’s Day four years ago.

Talking to the BBC, he said: “I had an excruciating headache, was being sick, couldn’t walk or talk very well.”

It was was later found that Mr Morely had a heart condition which had triggered the stroke and after his rehabilitation the solicitor had a phased return to work.

“It was tough but I was lucky that I was young and my brain remapped around the damaged area,” Mr Morely added.

Pete Rumbold, from Bromsgrove in Worcestershire, was 49 when he had a stroke in November 2011: “It left me paralysed down the left side, unable to speak, swallow or see.”

He warned that there were no outward signs he was at risk: “I was very fit, in the gym six days a week and I eat healthily, but I had high blood pressure and didn’t know about it.”

“I hadn’t been to the doctor for seven or eight years so my blood pressure wasn’t checked for a long time.”

The Stroke Association said that even younger people should be aware of the warning signs such as dizziness, difficulties with speech and changes in the face.

‘Complex picture’

Dr Mike Knapton, at the British Heart Foundation charity, said the increase in stroke rates among younger men and women was worrying and needed to be taken seriously.

“These findings also highlight the importance of ensuring your blood pressure and cholesterol are under control, as well as having a health check at the age of 40,” he said.

He added: “Although there is an increase in sedentary activity and obesity levels now, it is only part of this complex picture.”

Things to consider:

  • The population is rising and this accounts for some of the increasing numbers of strokes.
  • This study provides a snapshot of how stroke rates are changing but no study could account for all the factors that could be responsible.

Healthy Hearts Reduce Strokes

HEALTHY HEART CAMPAIGN CUTS RISK OF DEVASTATING STROKES AMONG 400 BRADFORD PATIENTS

First published Tuesday 2 June 2015 in Bradfordby Kathie Griffiths, T&A Reporter

stroke newsDr Chris Harris of The Healthy Heart campaign pictured with Dr Youssef Beaini, also from the campaign which began in October last year.

A HEALTHY HEART campaign has cut the risk of devastating strokes among 400 Bradford patients by 66 per cent.

Figures released by the Bradford Healthy Hearts campaign says since it started last October, as many as 16 strokes a year are being prevented or postponed because of the medication and therapy it is giving.

The encouraging figures were released yesterday at the start of Heart Rhythm Week, promoting the theme of detect, protect and correct.

Expert evidence has proved when a patient is started on blood-thinning medication such as warfarin, their risk of having a stroke is reduced from between 65 per cent to 75 per cent.

Based on almost 400 patients being prescribed with that medication, doctors say the risk-cutting initiative has stopped or temporarily postponed 16 of those patients from suffering strokes.

NHS Bradford Districts Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) started the campaign to reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack in people who are in risk groups and gave itself a three-year target to tackle heart failure, atrial fibrillation which sets off abnormalities in the heart rhythm and also vascular disease which strikes people with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and peripheral arterial disease.

As part of the campaign’s first phase, all the CCG’s 41 GP practices began prescribing blood-thinning medication for almost 400 patients and also gave stroke risk therapy.

“To see these results in just a few months since Bradford’s Healthy Hearts campaign was launched is really encouraging,” said NHS Bradford Districts Principal Associate for Transformation, Maciek Gwozdziewicz.

He added: “The focus is on improving care for those who have or who are at risk of developing cardio vascular disease (CVD) and we know that as the campaign develops further we are going to be able to help more people avoid suffering a devastating stroke.”

NHS Bradford Districts CCG lead for long-term conditions, Dr Chris Harris, said the importance of a simple pulse check which could help detect any irregularities of the heart.

“Heart Rhythm week is the ideal opportunity for us to highlight heart disease and heart conditions. Atrial Fibrillation for example can dramatically increase the risk of stroke, and sometimes people are unaware they have it. However, a simple pulse check can detect irregularities and then the prescription of anti-coagulants can greatly reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack,” he added.

To find out more about Heart Rhythm Week which ends this Sunday and Arrhythmia Alliance, go to aaaw.org.uk and for more information about atrial fibrillation and the Atrial Fibrillation Association, visit atrialfibrillation.org.uk/

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KEEP YOUR HEART HEALTHY WITH EXERCISE CLASSES IN THE SALISBURY, SHAFTESBURY, WARMINSTER, AMESBURY  AREAS – Salli’s Happy Hearts https://happyhearts4u.wordpress.com/

Rise In Stroke Numbers

ASSOCIATION WARNS OF ALARMING RISE IN STROKES

Increase in number of sufferers in their 40s and 50s is ‘a sad indictment’ of the nation’s health, says Stroke Association charity.

Research shows that obesity increases someone’s chances of having a stroke related to a blood clot by 64%, although high blood pressure is still the biggest risk.

Rise In Stroke VictimsPhotograph: Andrew Fox/Alamy

Denis Campbell Health correspondent

 The number of people in their 40s and 50s being afflicted by strokes is soaring, with obesity and sedentary lifestyles thought to be behind the rise.

The Stroke Association described the increase as alarming and shocking and warned that the cost of treatment – already at £9bn a year – would increase.

The trend is “a sad indictment” of the nation’s health, the association said, and urged people to be more aware of the risk factors.

Official NHS data shows that the number of men aged 40 to 54 in England who were hospitalised after a stroke grew by 46% from 4,260 in 2000 to 6,221 last year. The figure for women of the same age was 4,604, up by 30% from 3,529.

Hospital admission data reveals a 25% jump in the number of people aged 20 to 64, suffering a stroke between 2000 and 2014.

“There is an alarming increase in the numbers of people having a stroke in working age”, said Jon Barrick, the charity’s chief executive. “These figures show that stroke can no longer be seen as a disease of older people. As the figures show, it can happen to anyone at any time”.

Rising numbers of overweight people help explain the increase among the middle-aged, he said. “We’ve known for some time that obesity levels in the UK have been on the rise, putting thousands at increased risk of a stroke. This goes some way in explaining these shocking stroke rates, which are a sad indictment of the current state of the UK’s health.

Stroke can no longer be seen as a disease of older people. As the figures show, it can happen to anyone at any time

Jon Barrick, Stroke Association

“There are now real concerns that excess weight could replace smoking as the major killer of adults in the near future.”

Research shows that being obese increases the chances of having a stroke related to a blood clot by 64%, although high blood pressure is still the biggest risk.

Barrick advised those at risk to take more exercise, eat a healthier diet and get their blood pressure checked regularly.

The overall stroke incidence rate fell from 141.97 per 100,000 people in 1990 to 115.50 per 100,000 in 2010, partly as result of the fall in smoking rates in recent decades. But the charity said the rise in hospital admission figures was due to the growing and ageing population and fact that the population’s health had deteriorated.

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They also reflect the fact that hospitals have changed their admission criteria for stroke over recent years, which mean many more sufferers now receive emergency treatment. “But the progress we’ve made in transforming the way stroke is treated will be lost unless people take control of their health”, said Barrick.

The number of UK deaths from strokes fell from 87,974 in 1990 to 40,282 in 2013, thanks to greater awareness of its symptoms and better treatment, such as clot-busting drugs.

A spokeswoman for NHS England said: “Previous figures have shown a decline in the overall number of incidents of stroke. But we know certain factors such as diabetes and obesity increase the risk of stroke for people of all age groups”.

The NHS “five year forward” review, a blueprint for the service’s future, made clear that much more work was needed to prevent strokes from occurring in the first place, she added.

The charity warned that the rise would lead to more middle-aged people suffering a “heavy financial impact” as a result. Loss of income due to death and disability caused by a stroke has been estimated to cost those affected £1.3bn a year.

“Stroke survivors unable to return to work can struggle to cope with a fall in income, increased household bills and a benefits system which does not recognise the full impact of stroke,” Barrick said.

He highlighted a new survey of employers’ attitudes towards stroke by the charity which found that only 5% recognised cognitive difficulties as a symptom and 42% would be reluctant to hire a stroke survivor because of worries that they could not perform their role satisfactorily.

The Department of Health refused to comment directly on the rise but said:“Strokes can have a devastating impact on people and their families. Adopting a healthier lifestyle, like plenty of exercise and eating the right food, is really important to reduce the risk of stroke.”

The department’s Act F.A.S.T. Campaign was intended to save lives by alerting people to the symptoms, so that they could get potentially life-saving treatment quickly, she added.

Tweeting With Andrew Marr

Strokes – Symptoms – Recovery

NO STROKE OF LUCK – MY STORY

brain edited inverted

map of brain Click on all images to enlarge & zoom in.

INTRODUCTION – What I have learnt as a stroke survivor:

1Recognising the symptoms & quickly acting on them is essential. Speed in getting medical help is vital: Remember F.A.S.T. Face-Arms-Speech-Time.

  • Face – the face may have dropped on one side, the person may not be able to smile or their mouth or eye may have drooped.
  • Arms – the person with suspected stroke may not be able to lift both arms and keep them there because of arm weakness or numbness in one arm.
  • Speech – their speech may be slurred or garbled, or the person may not be able to talk at all despite appearing to be awake.
  • Time – it is time to dial 999 immediately if you notice any of these signs or symptoms.

2No two strokes are exactly the same! We are all different, so are our strokes, their symptoms, reactions and recovery processes. Depending on how severe the stroke is, our wonderful NHS medics, ambulance attendants, hospital care, nursing, doctors and medication can keep us alive: Only our individual coping mechanisms, self determination, true love and often selfless care will define the outcome.

3Once you have had a stroke, you change, never to be the same again! So make sure that change is positive and gives you a new insight to a post stroke life. It could make you a better, more tolerant, positive, nicer person.

4Blood starved and useless brain cells cannot be repaired; whenever possible, lively unused ones, hanging around waiting for work, try to take over their jobs. These suddenly employed cells and their neural jobseeker mates give this a real go whenever they can, and the effects can feel very strange and hugely confusing.

5The Brain is an incredibly remarkable bit of kit and more resilient than one could ever imagine. It doesn’t give up easily: Neither should any stroke survivor, family, friends or carers.

6 – Talk to others who have had a stroke, whichever type, as soon as possible – http://www.stroke.org.uk/about/types-stroke. You will realise you are not alone which is incredibly important to help gain lost confidence and a feeling of worth once again.

brain 1abrain 1    

WHAT HAPPENED TO ME

Early November 2014 I woke early with a thumping headache; somebody with lead boots was jumping on my eyes while tightening a vice between my ears and pushing an elbow into the back of my neck. I lifted a glass of water from my bedside but neither my arm nor hand seemed to be part of me. It was as if I had no control over picking it up and although I did, there was no coordination between glass and mouth, so water soon spilt down my front. My wife Emily turned on the light and we could see my face seemed frozen and my mouth had dropped. My left lips had fallen, my left eye was nearly closed, my left arm and leg felt like sponge, I was grey and speaking in a strange slurred way. Emily was fantastic, immediately calling for an ambulance, lovingly giving me a big hug and calming me down. The ambulance operator stayed on the phone until the team arrived, but a paramedic was on the scene first. They were all so reassuring, competent, genuinely caring and amazingly well trained. More alert than I would ever have been at 4am in the morning!

Rushed to Salisbury Odstock Hospital

I was scanned and my blood thinned with a huge dose of aspirin. Probably because I was already taking aspirin as part of the medication needed after my three heart attacks, triple bypass and aneurysm removal a couple of years ago, the immediate effects of the stroke might have appeared less severe than they really were. I was diagnosed with a lacunar stroke (For Details – http://wp.me/P61KDb-2l ), which was probably not permanently disabling and recovery could take up to a year or, who knows, maybe more. As time went on, I realised there are a lot of ’who knows‘ in the World of Strokes or Events, as they in the trade call them. Why is that word used? When I think of events, I think of fun times, celebrations, weddings, horses, sport etc.. Not a terrifying mind and body distorting, threat to life. The nursing and medical care in Odstock was terrific, efficient, attentive and very re-assuring. After tests of all kinds, occupational and other therapists’ visits, I had made enough progress over the days, to be signed out of Farley Ward.

Once home, the recurring symptoms, both sensory & motor derived, many of which must earlier have been under the surface (silent), reared their ugly heads after I had two more slightly lighter strokes 6 weeks later.

My recovery at home became a nightmare with symptoms changing radically every exhausting day. From speech, to pain, to numbness, to taste, to tingling, to pinching, to stiffening, to fuzziness, to blurring, to sight, to hearing, to headaches, to weakness, to fatigue, to excretion, to tears, to depression, to fear, to anxiety, to instability, each day this dreadful stroke played Russian roulette with my body and, frighteningly unpredictably, my mind..

COMING SOON – My Story PT 2 – Recovery At Home With Superb Help From Hindon Surgery In South West Wiltshire – http://www.hindonsurgery.co.uk/

*Useful Websites & Links have been added to Pages on this site/blog. More will be added when checked & collated.

*My Poem

*A STROKE

I know it well

Not a swimming mode

Not a batting hit

Not a cane’s thrash

Not a clock’s tick

Not a bit of luck

Not a soothing hand

Not a way of pleasing

Just a nerve bending

Mind blowing

Body shattering

Terrible trip to hell