It was one of those bright and sunny days, it was Thursday 12th of February. Sue had gone to work as usual at the local hospice and I was working as a lorry driving instructor. We were both nearing our 60th birthdays and had often discussed the possibility of retiring at the end of the year. So it really was, just another day.
At 10.15 my phone rang, it was an unusual number and I nearly dismissed it but something said answer this call. It was the Hospice – their next words literally stopped me in my tracks. Sue had had a stroke and was being rushed to hospital. At that time, I had no real idea what a stroke was, but I did know it was serious and possibly life threatening.
The next few hours at the hospital became a blur, Sue had no feeling nor movement on her right side. She underwent many tests and had various drugs pushed into her to try to reverse the stroke. Eventually the consultant took me to one side to explain everything. Sue had a 2cm clot and a 6cm bleed on the brain which had resulted in the stroke, brain surgery was the only option. My heart sank I couldn’t think properly nor put any logical words together. I had no idea what to do or say. Shock and emotion had taken over, I was in bits. Thankfully, most of our family were now around us and able to listen and ask questions. The operation would be lengthy and not without its risks but we expect all to go well, she is young and strong and mostly she is fighting.
Thankfully all did go well and Sue was to spend the next 6 weeks in hospital followed by a further 6 weeks in a care home. She underwent intense rehabilitation and care. Her right side slowly beginning to wake up. To this day though we still have a long way to go and Sue continues to fight.
Throughout these long weeks we had our good times and our not so good times. One occasion that has always stayed with me, was one night in the care home Sue and I tenderly kissed as we wished each other good night. As I looked deep into her eyes I knew the moment I turned and walked away she would cry. I cannot describe in any way how that hurt me so deeply. That I the man who so many years ago promised to love and care for her, had to walk down that corridor tears welling up in my eyes, pass the two on duty nurses and say – I think Sue is crying, please look after her. I left the building and sat in the car sobbing uncontrollably. The many weeks of emotional stress had built up and I could no longer control it.
For me this became a turning point. I knew I would have to be strong for both of us but I didn’t really know where to turn. All that was in my mind was, what do I need to do to get Sue home and make her life as good as I could get it. I researched everything I could find about Stroke, home adaptations, financial help, advice centres, council assistance the list goes on. The one thing I had overlooked was local Stroke groups.
6 months after Sue had the Stroke we attended our first Stroke group. We were met by many friendly smiling faces. I now felt a huge weight lift from me – this wasn’t just happening to us. Two years on Sue and I have now become regular members of 2 stroke groups, meeting weekly and monthly. We share experiences, knowledge and friendship. So, from a carers point of view, if the one thing you do today is contact a local group it will be the best thing you do today. There really are people out there that can perhaps help you, find the help you need.