Guest blog: The road to recovery after a major stroke – Hindsight, the wonderful gift

Over the previous weeks we have been looking at the care and subsequent recovery of my mum after she suffered a major stroke.

Hindsight, as they say, is a wonderful gift and looking back the signs were all there. I remember clearly mum had been having breathing problems very much like the pandemic of Covid we see today. She would have pains in her heart and then they would go away again.

She did visit the doctor on a number of occasions and they would do all the normal checks, including her blood pressure, temperature and so forth. It would always come back with the same result, she needed to lose some weight as her BMI (Body Mass Index) was too high and she had high cholesterol.

Little did any of us know what was happening around her heart.  I would stress to really take lifestyle choices seriously if you are under a lot of stress at work and are overweight. Prevention is better than cure and sadly you won’t be the same person again after suffering a stroke, it is that serious.

I am not a medical expert, as I have mentioned before, but I grew up with both parents suffering this terrible infliction and having to deal with the fall out after. I have a huge amount of experience in dealing with people with brain damage and limited movement, as for me this was normal when I was growing up.

My dad would have what was then called ‘brainstorms’, where apparently the chemicals in the brain go mad and cause the person to have outbursts of rage. Again, if you are living with someone who is acting this out, my best advice would be change the subject and distract them from their obsession. Believe it or not, I did this as a six year old child, without even thinking about it.

I will give you an example to help. My dad would storm into a rage thinking my mum had spent too much money and he would lock us out after we had been shopping. I would run and jump over the gate and down the side path to our house, whereupon,  I would casually walk into the conservatory where my dad sat and as soon as he started ranting at me;  I would change the subject usually three or four times. I would start with distracting him about a game of rugby on the television, then offer him a cup of tea and then talk about a book he was reading. By the time you have done this, I promise you the person will have forgotten what they are angry about and will calm down. I used to then give my dad a mellaril tablet which would calm the chemicals down in the brain. You would have to speak to your doctor about these.

With mum the other signs before her stroke included:

  • A high BMI (body mass index)
  • Lack of exercise. My mum was very sedentary as she liked to study and exercise was not part of her weekly routine
  • High cholesterol. HDL cholesterol gathers up bad cholesterol and ushers it to the liver, which excretes it from the body, so it’s good to have higher levels of HDL.
    Reduce it: Get cholesterol checked at least every five years if you don’t have other cardiovascular risks — more often if you do.
    As with high blood pressure, you can’t feel high cholesterol, so it’s important to have your cholesterol counts monitored.
    Taking charge of other risk factors through healthy eating habits and physical activity will help bring cholesterol to healthier levels as well.
  • A lot of illnesses start from the liver and the gut. Keep your gut healthy.  We are learning more and more about this powerful second brain and the vital need for it in keeping away illness.

Did you know inactive people are 20% to 25% more likely to have a stroke than those who are moderately or highly active, according to a 2015 review of past studies published in the publication Stroke.

A stroke occurs when blood flow to a part of the brain is reduced or cut off completely. This can happen when a clot forms in an artery or a blood vessel ruptures.

This was happening in my mum, unbeknown to us. I am somewhat of a health and stroke warrior these days, and I have been since my mum’s stroke. I can always see the signs and I even warned an old boss as I saw him heading down this exact same path as my dad. Sadly he did not heed the warning and he suffered the same fate as my mum and dad. He is recovering but he has been scared and he is not the same man.

Being healthy is a lifestyle choice. Your body is an amazing gift and as it gives us so much we should in turn take care of it. Our lives our precious and we owe it to ourselves to look after our health and wellbeing.

Trust me, it is worth it.

Published by hope2020exchangingdisappointmentforhope

I am a qualified social worker and run a community project for vulnerable adults. I am passionate about social justice. I feel that every life matters. No-one is insignificant or invaluable. I also believe that everyone has the power to change, although some may not wish to. Essentially, I believe in hope. Hope Wells is my writing name.

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