Just back to work

Hi all. I am 37 and in August I had a ischaemic stroke. I went back to work on the 1st March. I am still very tired and today I got home went to bed at 2 and I woke up 2 hours ago and I am still very tired. I am now getting intermittent headache like I did before the stroke. I don't know if that could be a problem I now have as I work in the motor trade. There are  many pressures stress targets. I don't know what to do.

Steve, others will advise you better than I. Most of us, however, suffer from post stroke fatigue and need to rest occasionally during the day. There is nothing worse than to back to work after a stroke. It is likely that your tiredness and headaches are stress related, as well as your having to return to working life.

It might be worth you talking to your gp. I wish you all the best.

Dear Steve

a stroke nearly always leaves us with SF, which is a form of tiredness, fatigue, with often headaches, nausea, lack of balance etc

very little is known about SF yet so many of us get it. The good news is that it does ease and usually goes away.

best guess is that SF happens as our brain tries to repair the damage that the stroke caused.

To allow or help our brain recover, we need good regular night time sleep and plenty of hydration.

On a practical level, you probably need a break during the working day. Really you need a quiet place to have a nap at least once a day. HR might help you with this, but they need to consult with someone who actually knows about strokes. 

you have done really well to recover enough to return to work. And so quickly. Your brain will be trying to get straight and this seems to take about two years.

I feel so sorry for those who had a stroke in 2020. Before that, the after care and support was pitiful, but now its even worse. 
i had migraines before  stroke, now i hardly ever get one. Probably the medication is helping on that front.

your stroke was caused by a blood clot forming then travelling in to your brain.  
your headaches ideally need to be dealt with. Possibly unrelated to the stroke, but you really do not want another stroke.

in the meantime, perhaps you need to arrange your life to allow sufficient rest. You should not fight the tiredness. Try to fathom when you are stroke fatigued and when you are sleep tired.

and when you get fatigued, try smiling. It fools your brain in to thinking all is well

lots of us are here for you.

you are not alone




Hi Steve,

Colin and John Jeff have both given you the benefit of their experiences and knowledge.

There is no simple or easy answer  regarding working age stroke survivors. We are all obviously different in terms of our strokes and lifestyles. Throw different types of job into the mix and things only get murkier. The simplest answer is that you can only do or cope with...."what you can do or cope with", and hopefully not break yourself in the process.

I knew I could not work at my pre-stroke level immediately after my stroke, working 90 hour weeks and running my own company, travelling across the UK or World even, so I set my sights lower and took on a job half as intense a few years later when I was both physically and mentally in better shape. The aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis meant new work was hard to find, especially with employers treating "stroke" as a dirty word and being unwilling to consider reasonable adjustments. I hated being unemployed and less busy but accepted it during the biggest recession my life had seen.

Buut, back to you: if you feel you can cope with the pressure and stress, get into a good routine and forge on past the fatigue. go for it and don't beat yourself up if you can't match  your abilities prior to the stroke. I see the way I used to work and live as contributing to my stroke -  a change was needed and I accepted life's Big warning.

Keep weighing it up but you must accept that something major has happened to you. You are more important than working. I aimed lower and it worked  and I'm still alive and working ten years later. Speech over.

Take care now,


Hi Steve,

We each had a stroke at a similar time. Please be careful what type of work you do and for how long. Where possible, stress should be avoided. Working at home is much easier. I need to relax for an hour or so most afternoons. I start work later than before, after sleeping later. I find this helps.

Please think carefully about the balance between life and work. I try to work on things that I enjoy doing and avoid things and people that I do not like! This is not always possible or practical.

All the best with your recovery. Some aspects of work will take longer  and be more difficult than before, which can be very frustrating.


Hi Steve - Well done on returning to work. Generally speaking, very little is known about strokes in the big world out there so employers do not understand the difficulties we have with recovery. They think because you may look like nothing has happened, then you are back to your usual self.  Some employers will think that because you have been off sick for a certain amount of time then you must be 'better' by now and fit to work.  They don't understand that a stroke is a life changing happening and you are on a long road to recovery.  

Jobs with pressure that demand targets to be met are something your brain will have great difficulty dealing with for a while.  This is why you are so 'tired' and probably the reason for the headaches.  There is a lot of truth in the saying 'my brain hurts I've worked so hard'.  This is actually a fact for stroke survivors!   If you don't rest when your brain tells you it needs it, your brain will shut you down to get it i.e., put you to sleep and make you rest until it can recoup itself.  This is the fatigue you are experiencing now.  It does go away but can last a long time. I'm almost 4 yrs post stroke and still get it when I get stressed about something or do too much.

I wonder if your employer would put the stress targets on people who have had heart attacks and gone back to work?  I don't think so. There is a lot of sympathy for people who have had heart surgery but very little for stroke survivors.  It's all down to lack of public awareness and lack of knowledge. There needs to be much more advertising and campaigns to make people aware of what a stroke actually is.  I was talking to someone the other day who thought strokes were just 'funny turns' old people got!  I find it strange that so much emphasis is being raised at the moment on mental health and how everyone needs help and support but stroke survivors get very little help and support in most cases and we are just left to get on with it.

I hope your employer can find ways around the pressure for you.  If you have a HR dept, maybe they could help. Or something from your GP for you to be put on lighter less stressful duties for a while.  Main thing is don't push yourself - it's still early days.