The stroke survivor – I understand honest!
When something major and unexpected tragically happens in one’s life people often proclaim they know how you feel, when actually they don’t. Admittedly some people are better than others at empathising, to some it is a natural instinct and others have learned these skills. They say they understand when in actual fact they don’t ….they ‘care’ but they don’t ‘understand’ how could they?
However, the best person to speak with and possibly confide to is somebody who genuinely has a personal insight into how you may be feeling and one instance that this really applies to is when one has suffered a stroke. If you visit the Stroke Association’s website www.stroke.org.uk you will find an excellent source of valuable and accurate information to print off which is extremely helpful when conversing with specialists. You will also be able to locate a local support group who will welcome you to a meeting and truly understand.
Where’s my brave face?
I prefer to refer to people who have had a stroke as ‘stroke survivors’ and not victims but having said that when you have had a stroke you are indeed a victim of your own mind. Reliving the scary stuff and worrying about what happens next as you watch the family going about their business and want to scream, ‘I’m scared’ but instead you make out you are fine. You try to detach yourself whilst in the back ground you may hear nurses or loved one’s muffled conversations ‘he’s doing really well……’
Working with a fellow stroke survivor recently I know exactly why he chose not to look directly into people’s eyes the whole time. We survivors have to keep something back in reserve to feel in control as we attempt to ease ourselves back into normal life. We have to put on a brave face for those around us who are not coping but pretending to. It’s all like a theatre production and often the survivor is watching it from the wings and feels isolated and possibly somewhat alone in their despair. This will be even more so if their speech has been affected as communication is more difficult.
Another brilliant charity is of course Interact Reading Service/Stroke Support www.interactstrokesupport.org who support stroke recovery by using actors to deliver an interactive reading service to stroke survivors in hospitals and stroke clubs.
I often compare stroke recovery to bereavement as the survivor has to come to terms with perhaps loss of speech or use of limbs and a previously more active life.