Stroke

I started to put this under mind, but although for me that's the main ongoing front, it also affects my body and spirit.

Also, I need to make it clear that this relates to my experiences. People may find areas which they identify with, while others may have no correlation. This is not a matter with we can use "rules" to deal with. We're each unique and strokes are also different.

I've since had "mini-strokes" (TIA's), but I've not had a "clot" stroke. But even within the "bleed" strokes (which I have had), there are many different factors and levels of severity.

When I had my stroke, it was painful - not in the sense of pain, but in having to learn so many things again. When I got home from the hospital, my wife set up my laptop and started my email program. When I had read the first message, I asked how to get to the second. It was good I could still read (even if I couldn't always say the right words to express my meaning), but not so good I couldn't even get to other messages.

The next day we repeated the pattern - and so on until eventually, I was able to read my messages unaided.

Later 100 or so cases were given to a new part-time stroke recovery specialist - I was one of her lucky few to get some rehabilitation care, even if it was months later. I remember struggling to do a very simple wooden puzzle. She suggested I start with a piece - and the rest followed relatively easily. I was (and still am in some situations) unable to follow simple logic.

After 2.5 years I had an amazing recovery of my mind. We weren't sure what it meant - but I was back - warts and all. As my kidney declined, so did the level of oxygen to my brain, so it was hard to tell what was stroke and what was my new normal.

When I started on work again I avoided complex jobs. I later took one on (a charity of which a client was chair), only to be horrified by what I saw. Fortunately, they had new auditors who confirmed my horror. It wasn't just my mind playing tricks - the previous accounts were not to an acceptable standard (hence new accountant and auditor). But I'm a lot less certain than I used to be - it could have been my mind.

When I started dialysis that took my kidney function (artificially) from 10% to 20% and I felt better. One example was, although I've never been great with names, I learned the nurses' names.

The transplant (from my wife) took things to a whole new level. I almost felt like the stroke had never happened. Subsequent health issues have not been so kind - but for the best part of most days I'm able to function "normally". However, when I have tricky things to deal with late in the day I often wait till the next morning - just in case.

I'm clearly not the greatest in the kitchen. After the transplant, I asked my wife to teach me the simple job of putting the bread on at night. Again it took some days, but I've at least been doing that, if little else. It's a tiny thing to do for someone who not only bore and raised our children but put up with me, nursed stroke-affected me, gave me a kidney and provides real joy each day.

When she had a brief break, I realised afresh just how much better the same basic ingredients are when prepared by her. I decided to brush up and do banana fritters for lunch - a first simple step back in the kitchen (don't count the bread). It was the middle of the day so my mind shouldn't be an issue, and it only has a handful of ingredients - and I used to enjoy it. What could go wrong?

Remember the puzzle above? After giving up (my wife took over) I realised with a new clarity that while I retain the things I use regularly, not so much with other things. It's not just the details of a recipe - it's the more basic process of following a recipe. This happens to all of us - but usually over time. I lost so much in the stroke - and over a decade later I've just realised I have to start from scratch if I want to learn again even simple things.

There's much more, but those are the main points of my mind's journey since a stoke. The body is also not much to see (I know), but it has left me much weaker - although again some of that was due to the low oxygen supply, eased significantly by the transplant. The spirit also obviously can't be seen - but has also been affected.

Before my stroke, I had thought I lived a normal Christian life. My "hearing from God" got less and less as I got older. My stroke wiped it out completely. I haven't been to "church" since the mid-'90's - but for over a decade I've been to an annual conference. At the first of those since the transplant, we were invited to have our own personal discussion with God (in writing - all of us having verbal discussions at once would have been chaotic). Despite my initial scepticism, I've entered a whole new level of relationship with God and started to get a new insight into His Word.

 

Last Modified

Last modified: 05 December 2020.