You look well

I had a Stroke (CVA) to my right cerebellum caused by a blood clot on October 22nd 2017.. Here I am 15 months later and I am still recovering and on a light phased return programme with work. I wake up every morning with dizziness, a headache, stiff fingers on my right hand and tingling in my right arm... which does improve as the morning goes on... Though at the time of my stroke I lost my speech and experienced a strong electric sensation running down my face and right side. While in the ambulance I heard the ambulance man tell my wife I may not get my speech back, which was scary.  Now physically and speech wise you would not know.  However my short term memory and fatigue are still issues.. However this time last year I was literally just keeping my eyes open for 2 hours before the fatigue would hit.. Now I can go 7 or 8 hours and be reasonably active before the brain fog, dizziness, numb gums and overwhelming tiredness of the fatigue bites... in those 7 or 8 hours I am driving 25 minutes each way to my son's college, also supervising him while he's learning to drive, hoovering , using washing machine, shopping , cooking etc... so doing well... I still have occasional days when I crash and hit the wall and really need a day of rest. throughout all of these days my short term memory and concentration issues do drive me mad, I also forget where I've put my mobile at least 50 times a day ?.  Friends and family continue to ask are you better now, and are you back in work as if I just broke my leg and now recovered.. they also say you look well .... nobody can see the memory problems, the dizziness,  the fatigue or my permanent brain injury caused by the stroke...They cant see that Im now sensitive to noise and struggle in a room full of conversation.... I look like me, I sound like me but I don't feel like me... Even my wife and son's aged 18 and 21 struggle to understand what I am really going through on a daily basis and what the fatigue is like... Are you tired ??? I'd settle for tired,  fatigue is a different animal all together..  nobody can see my fears either.  I'll never know what caused my stroke at the age of 47..  I have been positive,  tried to keep smiling and keep my sense of humour, but I'm desperate to get back to doing my area sales manager job . Which involves driving all over North Wales and The Midlands... 15 months on I am probably finding things mentally tougher now than I was 12 months ago... I joke about daytime tv and needing to get back to work.. I joke that I have sponsored 70 snow leopards since I've been off ? but deep down I'm concerned.. I tried to give myself a break and take my mind off things by playing snooker, a love of mine from years ago, I was reasonably talented in my teens.. I have played a few times for 2 hours at a time.. scored some nice breaks of 52, 66 etc but having played my back and joints ache on my right side  my fatigue gets brought on because of concentrating and I end up sleeping for 4 hours after and being drained for the next 2 days... I have dark moments because I was aware of everything at the time of my stroke and rationally thought I was leaving my wife and kids at the age of 47, I do wonder how long have I got sometimes .  I've noticed now that when I write if I read my written text back to myself, I notice that if there are a choice of words such as right / write or through / threw, there/their etc I always seem to use the wrong one and have to correct it.. I never did that before... I have another meeting with my employer next week when HR, My line manager and occupational health nurse are all travelling some distance to see me for a meeting... I know I will be met with "Are you better now" and "Oh you look well " comments... Where do I begin to explain what I'm still going through on a daily basis... anyway thanks for listening.. keep smiling and good luck with your own continued recoveries.... Darren 

Darren you have come a long way in a relatively short time. I think we survivors all relive the worst moments and share the same fears. I am 75 now, so my time left is obviously shorter, but I do not work so that is a blessing. Like you, I still have daily fatigue, but have got rest down to one hour. My wonky leg is quite good, but my weak arm is still not as I want it to be. My weak hand still aches a little at times and my ability to lift things is limited.

I’m afraid it is very hard to find people who understand how you think and feel. I think they probably find stroke quite scary. I went around in total ignorance about it until I had one. People also want us to be well and almost will us to be so. Like you I can do washing, light housework and bits of ironing, I have recently done bits of hoovering and swearing. Anything complex tends to involve swearing these days.

I am sure you will get back to work, but please do not see it as a high powered job requiring maximum effort. Take breaks, eat sensibly and take short rests when travelling. My major regret is that I cannot do any of the walks I used to love. I can do them in my head, but they are physically beyond me these days, but who knows.

Colin gave me some good advice early on in my recoverywhen he asked me to remember how far I have come since falling over three years ago, unable to stand and with a left arm that could do nothing. I can do so much more now and hope to do more yet. Good luck at your meeting and in the years ahead. Life is precious.

Hi Darren- I've followed your progress over the months and it's good to hear that you can go a bit further before the fatigue bites.  I think with your employer you have to be honest and try and explain how you struggle day by day still so they know not to overload you and your return to work will be at your pace rather than theirs.  Difficult I know because most employers don't have a clue about strokes. It's something that the majority of people don't understand due to lack of publicity.  The FAST advert  is great in that it includes most of the symptoms of stroke in one quick advert to alert people but, in real life, not everyone has facial droop or speech problems immediately. I didn't. I just lost the use of my arm and leg and remember vividly the ambulance man saying that he didn't think I'd had a stroke because I wasn't showing many symptoms despite the fact they were called to the surgery after my Dr rang them stating I was having one.  He even came to see me whilst I was waiting for the brain scan results to say he'd seen the scan and it didn't look to him like I'd had one.  So even paramedics can get it totally wrong sometimes!

Like you, I also have to check and re-check spellings, punctuation etc which I'm a stickler for!  Its not that we've lost our touch its just our brains having a blip choosing the wrong spelling.  Today I bumped into an old work colleague from years ago whilst having a coffee. I found myself stuttering and unable to get some of the words out. When I explained I'd had a stroke, he said "join the club". He was on his third. We spent most of the chat explaining how we both do the same things including wrong words, fatigue, forgetfullness and the dreaded "Ooo you look well!" etc.  It's difficult but we've all made it through so keep on hanging on in there and good luck with the job return. x

Thank you John  for taking the time to rely and for your comforting and encouraging words... I will continue to loom forwards... Good luck with your own continued recovery.... Darren

Thank you for your kind and encouraging words... It means a lot...  I totally agree about the FAST advert.. and can concur the complete lack of understanding out there for what follows after a Stroke... I try not to look back because it feels similar to climbing a ladder when you suddenly look down and get gripped with fear.. some days I go through the whole range of emotions.. I know I'm doing well but the progress doesn't seem quick enough for me.. I know I'm lucky to still be here, I know I'm lucky that I was at home with my family when it happened and not on my own driving on the M6 or M1 doing my sales job..  I'm lucky that my speech returned and physically I'm lucky but cognitively I've still suffered permanent brain tissue death and had a big stroke... I sound ungrateful but I'm 48 need to get back to work as the man of the house and want to get back to the job I enjoy and was good at.. So nervous though, because I've no idea whether I will be able to drive for 8 hours a day and hold 4 or 5 sales meetings, phone calls and emails that are involved...  my memory and quick arithmetic was my strength as was my sales report writing... Oh well, as I say thats why I'm finding it mentally tougher now than I did in the early days when I was like a bull at a gate, full of positivity.. It's only over time I realised I had no control over my recovery time, I was in the hands of my own brain healing and what it could adapt to and manage.. Still am really... anyway   enough about me... I hope you are still recovering well... Keep smiling and thanks for your support... Darren x

I have no doubt the FAST advert saved my life. My wife had seen a FAST poster in the local Chemists the day before I had my TIA. Although, thankfully, not a full stroke, without prompt treatment I would have been in serious trouble.


The Northern Ireland Stroke Association are about to do another FAST awareness campaign, and have asked me to help. They have promoted my blog through their Facebook and Twitter channels, and plan to do a wider media piece later this month. If it helps just one person, I'll be delighted.

Your words "like a bull at a gate" are exactly as I was before my stroke.  I have always held the philosophy that if you think old,you'll be old and I was going to fight old age with every breath in my body. Even in hospital when I had my stroke, I refused to use walking sticks or a walking frame. Although I was already retired when mine struck, I lived the life of a 30 year old rushing here, dashing to my clubbercise class, pushing hard at the gym, driving miles without a break, always on the go.  During my work life I was stressed out to the hilt for years dealing with upper management, meeting targets, useless staff, lack of resources - you know the problems yourself.  

The pace of life now is so much faster than it was 60's and 70's! Employers seem to put so many more demands on people that we often don't realise how fast we are travelling when we're living life in the fast lane.  In hospital, the stroke nurse said we all have to grow old whether we like it or not and that involves paceing (sp?) yourself. One day do one thing and the next day do another but don't do both on the same day!  I'm not saying you're old, (like me ha!) far from it, but when you do get back to work full time, leave the bull eating grass in the field rather than charging him at the gate! Take care x

You are so right... My life too consisted off rushing around at 100mph... normally to help others... Dad's Taxi, helping my Mum and Dad, sorting all of their problems... Running around to my Father in laws while my wife was working with shirts I'd ironed for him or meals I had cooked... In addition since September 2013 I covered 3 Sales areas... Ironically due to colleagues off work long-term due to serious illness..  It became the norm to start taking phone calls as early as 7.30am until 6pm.. I handled all the phone calls  emails and problems and pressure of all the customers on those 3 areas for 4 years... During that time I was in increasing pain with my left hip.. old football injury.. I was in pain taking strong  painkillers to enable me to drive long distances during the day and limited to 4 hours sleep a night because of the pain... I would do emails to catch up until 1am and get up at 5.30am to do emails to get ahead and give me a chance to cope with the day ahead... In January 2017 I had a hip arthroscopy operation (repair of the damage in hip).. I suffered more pain from nerve damage in the months ahead and finally got back to work... 4 Months later I suffered my big stroke... They still don't know what caused the blood clot , so I asked if it could be the operation I was told categorically no... It was far too long ago.. It has been put down as part of the perfect cocktail.. Prolonged stress, lack of sleep, pain etc... I have been told by my consultant in no uncertain terms that in future I must only do 1 sales area my own or it will be seriously detrimental to my health... I have officially been on phased return for months but work have let me be, not given me any work from home to do, I think they feel guilty... but I have a meeting next week with HR, my line manager and the occupational health nurse ... I will just have to explain about treading carefully and slowly increasing my work load to give my brain chance to retrain and adapt to concentrating again...  This bull has to slow done, and yet increasingly all of those chores of helping others are landing back in my lap again, because no doubt I look well in their eyes... Thank you so much for your support it has really helped over the last 12 months... take care Darren

Hi Adrian I'm so glad the FAST advert helped you...