Does it ever get any easier?

Had my stroke 12 weeks ago, aged 35, whilst on holiday with my family in Cuba. Made it home eventually after horrendous experience with travel insurance. Since then I’ve been struggling to regain use of my left arm and leg. With daily physio I can now walk using FES but my arm movement is still very limited. Recovery is just so hard and physically and emotionally draining. I’m still hoping to return to driving and work and get my old life back.....but it’s starting to feel like that may be an impossible task. I’m usually such a positive person but this is really starting to get me down. Please tell me there is light at the end of the tunnel....

Dear Sian

So sorry to hear of your stroke. And such an awkward location from which to get home.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel for as long as you need it. Recovery is possible for years. Recovery seems to slow down at about two years but never ever give up. Your brains is amazing and will work with you if you encourage it.

I will now mention the bad news. The old you is not coming back. Your old life is not coming back. Your brain is permanently damaged and it will not mend to align with your prestroke situations. If you are struggling with this concept (eg emotions are drowning it out) then please get counselling from a stroke trained counsellor. I found counselling very helpful at times and essential at other times.

The better news is that you are going to get a new life. And its not all bad. Probably some time ahead for you, but your new life is developing. 

Please keep wiggling the digits and getting your brain to think about movement. Do remember neither your arm nor your leg is damaged. Its "only" the messaging system.

Keep at it. The emotionality is a part of the stroke and it eases as the months tick by. Do let the tears flow but try to avoid the number of times you get to that position. Its better if you can have some days when you do not crash emotionally.

Being positive is so important. Keep the positivity going. I have read hundreds of fellow SS journeys and being positive is the big key. You might like to write down ten or twenty goals. Then for each goal fill in some signposts as to how you are going to achieve those goals. Regret that it is only you that can fulfill those goals. Help is great but its only ourselves that can effect the improvement. I am very impressed with you when you say you have been a positive person. Thats so important.

Smiling is incredibly effective. False, forced or fake if you cant manage a genuine smile. I recommend four smiles a day as a minimum.

 You will probably be able to drive but dont make that the be all and end all. You can manage without a car. Yes it gives independence but its not essential.

Yes you will be able to work. Maybe not your old job, but you will be able to do something. If its employment then its probably another six months away at best. Gradual phasing in is almost essential. You havent mentioned stroke fatigue ("post stroke tiredness"). If you dont get it then the driving and work will come sooner and more easily. Many, perhaps ,most, get the wretched SF and that dominates recovery.

Forgive me if I am being a know all. I really dont know much at all. Would it help if I mention that I can now get up a step ladder, I can drive and I have taken on a few small "jobs". On day one I was paralysed throughout and could only move my right hand. Yes I have residual issues and like you its down the left side. But I am OK and its a new me not the old one.

You are not alone out there. Lots of us are here for you


Hi Sian, things do get better...had my stroke Boxing Day in Belgium, was visiting my son over Xmas. Left arm and leg had no movement, 4 months in hospital with daily physio. Now in a bungalow, live on my own, manage to walk albeit short distances, have movement in arm and leg although still weak some days and driving an automatic car. Before stroke I was playing badminton and football....and always active walking dogs, diy etc.

Fatigue is my biggest issue but try and stay positive and achieve small goals, don’t try to set big targets that you won’t reach...getting through each day is an achievement in itself....but smile, laugh and start again tomorrow. Lots of advice on here, take note from others that have been there and don’t beat yourself up or get angry, frustrated yes but all in a new day.

take care


I had my stroke 4 years ago at 47 years old.  It affected my right side and vision and speech a little.  Regular chiropractor (sadly not on the nhs) and a clinical hypnotist (she did me a 30 min audio i'd listen to each night) these helped me no end, they were brilliant.  Yes, it was very slow at first, i couldn't see properly and kept being sick for about 6 weeks.  I can walk again now (i have a stick outside as I have the odd balance issue) i aim to walk about 10,000 steps 3 times a week (that was my goal this year). After a year i could drive.  I run my own business too.  I was very tired and took a nap most afternoons and it's an emotional journey.  I even managed to get frozen shoulder along the way to recovery! I still do get a bit tired.

We can find other ways to do things.  ie i am typing with my left hand as I have a tremor in my right and find writing and typing difficult.  Voice recognition works well for longer messages!  I have an electric chopper for the onions! I have bannister rails both sides of the stairs etc  You are young, keep your positivity, there is definitely light at the end of the tunnel.   Focus on one thing at a time in your head, you can't take it all on board and set yourself small goals and picture yourself having achieved them too.  Lots of luck.

Hi Sian83, I was just reading an old post of yours from last week. Having your stroke in Cuba certainly puts where I had mine in the shade!! Lol



Really good advice.  Good luck xx

Such good advice and really encouraging.  xx

Hope Sian sees your post, Colin.  There's lots there to encourage her, always a good balance of advice and experience. smiley

Hi Sian. Others on here have given good advice. My stroke was two and a half years ago, but on holiday in Devon. Cuba is another matter, so how wonderful that you got home. I walk outside with an FES machine, even though I have an allergic reaction to the pads. I do not use it indoors. Please remember the leg recovers faster than the arm and hand, because the latter perform more complex functions.

I also  have a weak left arm and hand and in the beginning my arm was very jerky and the fingers lacked sensitivity. I had a lot of physio on the arm and hand and they have improved enormously. Utilise the weak arm and hand as much as you can. I cook a lot and that has really helped it. I  hold apples and potatoes in the weak hand when peeling them and use it to steady other things. Buttoning things is still hard, but I can use the hand when tying shoelaces or opening a bin bag. I find seated Tai Chi enormously helpful and that really helped me control movement in the left arm. It still jerks occasionally, but not half as badly as it did.

I am over twice your age, so you have youth on your side. Recovery is challenging and hard, but please battle on. As Colin always says, you may not get your old life back completely, but your new life will not be a bad one. The best advice I had was when I had my consultant review and he said, ‘Although you are not yet the person that you were, remember to be the person that you are now.’ Good luck in all you do.

I suspect Sian did not locate my reply. This site is too difficult.

Or perhaps the cat frightened her off.

Thank you for your kind words,


hi Sian

yes likely to be the hardest thing you have ever had to do but keep going you will find reserves of strength you didn't know you had. similarly I have left sided weakness no function at all in my left hand  it was about a year before I could contemplate driving. I got myself referred to a driveability centre, check out RDAC. and essentially relearned to drive using an adapted vehicle. it took a few months. I have now been given the all clear. but, and a big but, I have to find the money to get the adaptations done before I can actually drive my car. well I take one step at a time  progress is slow but recovery is possible and happens for all of us. I loved walking and lost the ability  it is beginning to come back but nothing like it was. it is a source of grief for me and the emotional side of both coping with loss and understanding how much to adapt and how much to push on with recovery is exhausting. so you have to pace yourself. I say all that not to dismay you but to give some hope with a touch of realism.what you are going through is normal for someone who has survived a major brain injury. you survived  right. and now you are in it for the long haul. the rest of your life that is !

live well. 

with best wishes 


Hi Sian

my stroke happened two years ago, lost my memory and partially sighted. Your journey will be a difficult one. You will recover stay strong. Have small goals to do at the moment they will get bigger as time passes. All the very best you keep going.


Don’t despair Phillip .As a general rule the younger you are the swifter your recovery- so age is on your side.Do your exercises regularly and be patient .There is a time element in recovery and you will face plateaux but don’t ever  lose hope- that is what will carry you through to recovery.

Best wishes

Sorry I called you Phillip in error


Hi. I had a stroke last April, I'm 38 yrs old. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. My arm was badly affected, I couldn't do anything. Felt exactly the same as you, my mum and had to put up the tears that I wouldn't be back at work or driving my car. The occupational nurse gave me a booklet called grip and it was 35 different exercises. I pushed through that each day, it was hard and tiring but I got there. I was back at work in the September.

Hi belinda. Could you tell me more about that tape you are listening to? Tina

Hi. I had my stroke late juni in the dominican republic, - close to Cuba:-) My arm was totally numb, leg suffering, and some speech problem. Im 59, and have recovered a lot. Shoulder still in pain but arm works, walking fine and just minor speech problems. Hand writing terrible. I am back to work and have been for a month. Continuous training at the same time. Yes, there is light at the end of the tunnel....Tina

cant say its easier but with confidence always improving accustomed to everything stroke

Keep strong and keep going. You will make it and life will not be as bad as it may seem now.

Keep positive i had my stroke 18 months ago and still improving. Good days and bad days. Slowly wins the race.  Keep it up. Andrew