Tuesday, 24 May 2016

In the Beginning

I’m a retired, none too successful, consultant/software developer (ACBA in Retirement http://www.acba.co.uk/). Grown up children and grandchildren (plus a little study) keep me busy. Also, I like food and Bryony, my wife, is an excellent cook. We have both succumbed to weight gain, but not grossly so. Walking in our local countryside is very pleasant, but this activity has not been enough to counteract the effects of eating too much.

The first few months were the worst. Inevitably, the focus of all my attention was on me. The initial impact of the stroke was right-sided paralysis. Not total paralysis rather a numbness from head to toe. It was most obviously visible by the lop-sidedness of my facial features.

The NHS provided excellent immediate aftercare and information. This included 6 weeks’ worth of nursing support at home. Even more support and advice is available from the UK’s Stroke Association. But recovery is very individual. You have to do it for yourself.

I was encouraged to undertake specific technical exercises to improve my ability to handle normal everyday skills. These were dutifully, if not enthusiastically, completed. The stroke had interrupted a 1st year Open University course in Networks, Linux Operating Systems and Robotics (Technologies in Practice). Continuing and completing that course had by far the greater priority. Surprisingly, I was able to handle this without too much stress. The course did not require an end of year examination and made life for the recovering stroke patient much easier.

So my brain was not completely mashed, but it was clear that I had to work progressively in order to re-establish stamina. The right-sided numbness faded after 4 or 5 weeks. That is to say, I wasn’t aware of it all the time. In reality, the effects of it were still there. I began walking outside within a couple of weeks, but not far.

Fortunately, our house backs onto the Harleston Recreation Gound. My first attempt at circumnavigating it, after about three weeks, left me completely exhausted. In these early stages, though, things improved very rapidly. I was going to the shops and carrying light loads home (½ to ¾ mile) in less than another week. Clear signs of improvement were very encouraging.

In a further month or so, I had managed a walk of about 6/7 miles. Originally, Patrick (my eldest son) and I had been planning a cycling holiday in late June. That was out of the question, but we returned to our usual holiday caravan in Walberswick. I proved to myself that the extended walks were not just a fluke. Everything seemed to be progressing nicely.

Playing any musical instrument involves, I suspect, very different parts of the brain. I picked up the violin for the first time after about 4 weeks. To my astonishment, the loss of facility was not huge. In fact, my sight reading appeared to have improved. Was this because I was doing everything that little bit slower? I coped with a concert with Waveney Sinfonia at the beginning of May reasonably well. The larger viola took a while longer to get used to, but the members of my regular quartet were very patient with me.

Life seemed be getting back to “normal” very nicely. But was it?


  1. Hi Steve

    I was very sorry to learn of your stroke, but very encouraged by the blog to hear that you are making a good recovery and coping well. I hope the good progress continues.

    Best wishes to you and Bryony,

    Peter Crofts

    1. Thanks Peter. Bryony does have a tendency to mollycoddle me for fear that I'll over stretch myself. It is difficult to get the balance right between too much and too little. In reality though my case is pretty mild.

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