Barry’s life changed in an instant when he experienced stroke. Here, in his own words, he describes his rehabilitation and how the support of the team at Queen Elizabeth’s Foundation (QEF) has been vital to his progress
I went to bed one night and unbeknownst to me, my life was about to be turned upside down.
On September 22, I woke up at 6 o’ clock in the morning, and something didn’t feel right. I tried to make a phone call, but I could not talk.
My friend took me to hospital, where it was discovered that I was having a stroke. The next four days are a bit of a blur.
It affected the right side of my body and my ability to speak. I knew what I wanted to say but my brain wouldn’t let me. The stroke affected the left side of my brain and I developed the speech and language impairments, aphasia and apraxia of speech. All of these impairments really affected my confidence.
I spent the next four weeks in East Surrey Hospital and the doctor recommended the Queen Elizabeth’s Foundation (QEF) neuro-rehabilitation centre.
When I first arrived, I felt scared, alone and very vulnerable. I couldn’t speak and felt unable to express my thoughts and feelings. I also struggled to walk and couldn’t move my right arm fully.
My first port of call was Donna, who helped me to source a newspaper. A trivial thing, but it meant so much to me at the time. Nothing was too much trouble for Donna.
My room was perfect. After four weeks of being on a hospital ward, I had my dignity back and some sort of privacy. I felt my life starting to get back on track.
The physio sessions with Penny, Ellie and Kish really helped me to get my stability and the movement back in my right arm. After four weeks of working their magic, I was walking normally and started to catch a ball again. This is something which had seemed impossible before. I feel that I am improving with each passing day.
My occupational therapist was Sarah, an unbelievable help in my recovery. She helped to get my confidence back with daily tasks, like going to the shops. She even helped me to cook again, safely! She also arranged for me to have a test, which allowed me to get my driving licence back. I couldn’t have done this without her.
My psychology was with Reinhart, Abbey and Jay. The chats we had helped me to sort the things out in my head, regarding my anxiety, and it gave me a different perspective. Instead of getting stressed out, they helped me to see things more clearly.
During one of my sessions with Abbey, my emotions got the better of me and my scheduled assessment was put on hold. With Abbey’s patience and kindness, we worked through how I was feeling and I really felt as though I had turned a corner.
My speech and language therapy was with Libby, Heather and Liberty. At first, I had given up all hope of ever having a conversation again. Although my words came out, I wasn’t making much sense. After a few weeks with Libby’s help, I started to string a few sentences together.
I never noticed it myself, but family and friends all of a sudden started to understand me, and said that my speech had become much clearer. Liberty and Heather made each therapy session fun and we were always laughing. Although I didn’t realise it at the time, all of the tasks/activities/games were an important part of my recovery.
Libby encouraged me to practice making phone calls. I remember feeling quite daunted and I felt that I wasn’t up to this task. I was scared they might put the phone down and not understand what I was talking about. My fears were proved wrong and Libby’s faith in me made me realise the progress that I had been making.
All of a sudden, the therapy I had done, made sense to me.
I am amazed at the help and understanding that I received, and the team was second to none. They all made my recovery their priority. Being at QEF has really turned my life around and I don’t know where I would be without their help.
In a short space of time, I have achieved being able to walk unaided and have the confidence to enjoy conversations again. I don’t feel as though my life has been turned upside down anymore.
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