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It all changed with one stroke

calendarOctober 20 2020

Adele Ramet describes how her life suddenly changed from being active and independent to suddenly needing full time care following a devastating stroke.

Before the Stroke

The questions I was being asked by the nurse responsible for discharging me from hospital following my 4th pacemaker procedure felt absolutely ridiculous.

Of course I didn’t have carers coming in! 

Of course I managed all my own personal care!

Maybe I was just a few weeks short of my 70th birthday but that didn’t mean I was a helpless old lady!

My husband and I had just moved into our retirement flat after carefully and painstakingly turning it into our dream home. The décor and furnishings were just perfect, and the kitchen finished to my specific design. Our location, exactly halfway between the town’s two theatres, meant we were perfectly placed to go to shows on their West End try out tours.

We happily enjoyed the 2-mile round trip walk into town to go shopping and have lunch out on a weekly basis. Care and assistance with washing and dressing was something for old people. Maybe in a few years but definitely not now.

Which was why the stroke was such an unexpected shock.

A single stroke

I had always listened to the doctors and taken my medication. But on this one occasion I’d been told to stop my blood thinner. I was having an ICD implanted (a defibrillator/ pacemaker device). I had to stop taking the medication just before and immediately following the pacemaker insertion. Yes, I was warned a blood clot was a possibility, but it wouldn’t happen to me. Except it did.

I collapsed 3 days after my procedure, unable to move my left leg or arm.  I was paralyzed down my whole left side.

Suddenly, I was this old lady needing personal care and worse still, someone to wipe my bottom for me. There was so much I could no longer do. Me, who prided myself on keeping active. I was unable to use and enjoy my lovely new home or simply walk around. I sank into despair begging to get “Me” back. I couldn’t stand being this pathetic old person.

Losing my independence

I was lucky that my husband willingly took on the role of carer. I had my lovely family but I hated not being able to cook my grandchildren’s favourite meals or play with them the way I used to. Having to ask to go to the toilet or get up or go to bed is horrible. It’s this loss of independence that is so hard to take. Constant fatigue makes things so much worse.

I wish I could still touch-type. 120 words per minute was easy for me. I loathe being confined to unresponsive keypads that mangle my words and have me making constant typos. I miss writing the regular newsletter for our block of flats. It was fun and encouraged communication between the neighbours, even if it was mostly complaints!

I hate that I find eating very difficult. It’s physically awkward and as I’m moving around so little I’m just not hungry and can’t face food or drink most of the time. I know I am lucky, many people my age have far worse things to cope with.

Looking to the future

Coming to terms with old age has been hard. It was just the suddenness of it all. One day I was fine, the next day it all changed. But perhaps it’s better to do it now than when I hit 80 and am really old. I know it is possible to recover from a stroke and I will keep working on it but that doesn’t stop me feeling low and too tired to cope some days.

Thanks to my skilled stroke physiotherapist I am able to do more with my left arm and leg than I could. 10 months on and I can carry a phone with my left hand and wave to my grandchildren on a video call. This week I walked across the living room without my stick for the first time!

Things are moving forward as my mobility is being restored slowly but I was warned it would be slow. Covid lockdowns have made things more difficult but I guess I have nothing better to do than work on my exercises and help things along with the guidance of my expert physiotherapist. It is worth the effort to get back to normal. I can and will beat this unhappy episode in my life. If this is as bad as it gets then I can handle it. Laying down and giving up helps no one and certainly won’t help me. Moving about is the only way out of it and I will and can do that thankfully. 

About Adele

Adele Ramet BA Ed (Hons) is a retired author, lecturer in education and teacher of creative writing. She is a ridiculously proud grandmother to two children with special educational needs. Adele is determined to raise the issues and fight for her grandchildren and other kids in their position. Read Adele’s popular post on this issue, ‘Down to SEND?‘.

Like this blog? Read Down to SEND? by Adele

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