My ten top tips for stroke recovery

1

Fight the fear 'The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear' Nelson Mandela 1918-2013

I found that the worst of the hidden effects of stroke was a combination of fear and confusion. Even those who have never before experienced real fear are likely to feel it now.

For example, like many stroke patients I have a condition called hemianopia which is the loss of part of the field of vision on the same side in both eyes. This arises because of the way vision is represented in the brain after a stroke, tumour or traumatic brain injury. Normally the visual images we see to the right travel from both eyes to the left side of the brain, while the visual images we see from the left travel to the right side of the brain. Therefore, damage to the right side of the brain can cause a loss of the left field of view in both eyes and vice versa.

My loss of vision is on the right side. What I see looks like a full field of view but is only half. Until I realised this, and how to deal with it, travelling as a passenger by car was a nightmare, I could not see who, if anyone, was driving and had to get the driver to keep talking to reassure me. Travelling on foot was no better, I was constantly banging into street furniture, to the amusement of a friend who was driving past one day and saw me apologising to a lamppost.

For the first three years after my stroke I did not understand the effect of this condition, but unlike most sufferers I did not stay at home. Instead I went out with friends and tried to get about normally, although still banging into things. This changed when I got and was taught how to use a white stick, which I had always resisted because I did not believe I needed one. This training changed my life, prevented me walking into street furniture. The shocks ceased and the fear subsided.