Welcome to my latest blog. I had nearly finished writing this blog before the events of the last week took place which made me scrap everything and start from scratch again.
I am afraid in this one I am going to ask you to think. All will become clear so please stick around and continue reading.
In my previous blog I mentioned being nominated for an award, which, unfortunately, I didn’t win. My disappointment was more towards the fact that the cause that Chequered Flag Motorsport directly supports did not get the recognition it deserves, rather than seeing it as personal failure as I do not crave the personal recognition. What this did do was make me very aware that society is not yet ready to accept or understand strokes and other neurological conditions and the impact they have on individuals and their lives.
A couple of quick statistics for you before we carry on. A stroke is the fourth biggest killer in the UK and there are 1.5 million stroke survivors in the UK, not only that but stroke will affect 1 in 4 people directly or indirectly. What do you know of a stroke?
I will give you a few pointers but urge you to go and research a little more about a stroke, as it can happen to anyone at any time. It does not only happen to old people (I was 30), but it can also happen to fit healthy people and it is not just a physical condition, it is a brain injury that causes physical limitations sometimes temporary, sometimes permanent. So, what about the invisible long term permanent affects following a stroke?
Although physically very well recovered, I personally struggle neurologically, especially with ongoing fatigue. This limits my ability to carry out tasks and sometimes even to stand or maintain my balance. Does this make me disabled though? I ask this, as over the last week I have been very aware of my treatment at the hands of society.
This treatment came on the back of shocking and disturbing treatment at the hands of government departments that are supposed to look after and care for us.
The 1ST instance saw me get verbally abused in my local supermarket by an older lady who was unhappy at my attempt to get out of the store as soon as possible. I offered to educate her about living a life with a brain injury and how public places are not really a friendly environment for us. She declined and went away mumbling under her breath.
The 2nd instance occurred at a hotel devoid of check in staff in favour of an automated check in system. A system that did not work and only served to increase my anxiety as I could not check in or get any help.
The 3rd instance took place at family members university graduation where, without warning, high intensity flashing lights were used which increased my fatigue and meant an afternoon enjoying what should have been a joyous occasion with my son, saw me rendered completely fatigued and virtually immobile.
Should I need a label or a badge to be treated with decency and respect? Am I less worthy of decency and respect because my condition is not visible? Had I a physical disability or visible condition I very much doubt that I would have been treated in such a way or come up against the same obstacles.
Although I do not think that society is ready to understand stroke and its impact, there are so many survivors who do nothing to help this view by focusing on the physical, and the NHS FAST message, good that it is, does much to give the impression that stroke is only a physical condition. Recovery from the physical impact of stroke are the first signs of recovery in that your brain is learning to develop new pathways, to send messages to the parts of the body for physical actions to take place. However, it is at this point that the medical profession tends to consider you ‘recovered’.
I, somewhat controversially, do not consider that you ever fully recover. A stroke kills brain cells that will not regenerate so how can you not have any long-term issues? You will make a recovery, but it depends upon what you consider ‘recovery’ to be. Is it to walk, talk or return to work? It may be a range of things and it is for you that must determine what ‘recovery’ means to you.
Stroke can happen to anyone at any time. Yes, there are things you can do to lessen that risk if you are at risk, but for many it just comes out of the blue. You, or someone you know, or love could be the next statistic. I do not think society is ready to hear about stroke and accept it for what it is. I find myself talking to more and more groups of individuals about my stroke and my experiences.
The response from those people have confirmed the failings I have had to endure, fight battles, and find my own ways of rehabilitations over almost 30 years since my own stroke echo’s that change is far from taking place. Having the privilege and opportunities to talk with others and share my story is a start but not something I can do alone if real change is to begin.
If you know of any organisations who would welcome a visit from me to have an informal chat to management, HR or staff then please put me in touch.