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Still running after stroke

Have you always wanted to run? Do you have doubts about running after stroke? Please do NOT let your stroke stop you from running, or learning to run. If I did it, then anyone can do it!

My running story

Prior to my stroke in 2013, I would say that I was a reasonably fit person, although I never ran or took part in any basic fitness training. I would walk a lot and think that kept me fit. Around 10 months’ post stroke, following my post stroke depression, I met my personal trainer (and now great friend Melinda), and my positivity and zest for life began to return. I threw myself into fitness (sometimes to my own detriment as I would spend days in bed following a short mountain climb!). However I loved it. I loved the feeling of climbing to the top of a mountain or kayaking across the Pumicestone Passage where we live and just being with nature. Melinda taught me to focus on what I COULD do and not what I could not. I had limbs that worked so why not use them to their best advantage!10k fun run 2016

It was only during the early part of 2015 that I took up running and trained for a 10K. I started with a simple Couch to 5K  running app and it gave me the basics for running. Subsequently joining a running group and watching others who had begun to run following their own strokes, gave me that much-needed passion for being able to complete that first 10K run. Hard work and determination to succeed paid off. That same year, I completed my first 10K run and in a time of 69 minutes so I was very pleased with that. I ran the first 8.5K and only walked up a very steep hill near our local Shelly Beach. I completed the same run again in 2016 (in the howling wind and rain) and it took me two minutes longer. Here is a photo of my husband David and I in 2016, just before we ran the 10K fun run and I have been running ever since (sometimes on and off, when my health hasn’t been too good)

Goal setting

I thrive on setting goals, not only in my running life, but generally. I know that goal setting is not for everyone but it gives me focus and motivation. Roll on four years from my very first 10K run and with over 50 community park runs under my belt, I am currently training for the City2Surf 14km run in Sydney on 11 August. (Check out my very red face of me and my run buddy Lisa on our evening 10K training run earlier this week!) Having a run buddy is essential and Lisa and I keep other accountable.

Me and Lisa 10 k run photo

I am very much looking forward to the City2Surf and hope to run the whole 14k, whilst sharing awareness of stroke, supporting the Stroke Foundation and specifically the Little Stroke Warriors Group. The LSW was set up by two amazing mums, after their children were diagnosed with stroke. We are fundraising for this amazing cause and together, we have already raised over $2500. Thank you to those that have generously donated to my run and here is the link should you wish to donate a $1 or two! Every little helps share awareness and resources for parents who need to cope with their little ones going through a difficult stroke recovery.

As a stroke survivor, I do not believe the words ‘I CAN’T’ exist, so if you are physically able, don’t make any more excuses and start now!

Here are five tips worth knowing that have helped me run:

  • Manage your running with your fatigue and you will do OK (i.e. take rest before if needed and balance physical and mental fatigue pre and post runs)
  • Drink plenty of water before your run so you don’t become dehydrated
  • Try and find a running buddy to keep you motivated.
  • Find your local Parkrun. It’s free and it doesn’t matter how slow you go at first. Just keeping trying and there are plenty of people there to cheer you on.
  • NEVER give up trying. Always believe in yourself and you CAN do it if you really want to.

Here is a poem, entitled ‘I Did it!’ which is in my book A Stroke of Poetry and I wrote this, following my first 10K run. I share it often and know it inspires people to get out and run. It would be great if you could comment on this post and share your running tips and your achievements, however small they may be and let’s keep each other motivated.

                                                                                                                                                                 I Did It!

When we first came to Australia, seven years ago, this year.
Our Lady of Rosary was Patrick’s school. Many memories we still hold dear.
Each year they organise a fundraiser, held here on the Coast.

The Caloundra Foreshore Fun Run it is, and well attended by most.

There’s a 10K, 5K and so much more. It’s a beautiful family day.
You can even take a 3K walk and participate that way.
So, the first year I attended I did the 3K walk.

Run? No chance. You’re having a laugh. I’d much rather walk and talk.

As the years progressed, I saw those runners coming through.
I thought “Maybe, am I serious?  Is that something I could do?”
I’d watched my good friends running and some had suffered a stroke like me.
They’d trained and got so fit again. That’s where I aspired to be.

Even after my stroke recovery and getting fitter by the day.
Without the correct training a 10K run? There was no way.
So my friend suggested a personal trainer based here on the Coast.

If I joined their runners’ eight-week plan maybe a 10K I could then boast.

So, with my personal trainer, and boot camps through the week.

I added on the running course. I tell you it was no mean feat.  
Many mornings up at 5am. Is that really a time to rise?
Some training sessions were really tough. The trainers I grew to despise!

I hurt my knee on a training run. That really set me back.
Physiotherapy sorted that out, and the day came around real fast.
I was feeling very nervous but my mind set got me through.
If I was going to achieve this goal of mine. I knew what I had to do.

As I ran downhill to Moffat Beach, the finish line in my view.
I saw my son waiting to run with me. Tears welled and then I knew.
I’ve really gone and done it! I’ve actually run 10K.
A goal I thought I would never reach I well achieved that day.

Happy running and until next time, please stay stroke safe.

Shelagh


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Stroke stories are meant to be shared

Do you share your own stroke story? Sharing my own stroke story is something I never envisaged during my initial stroke recovery. Why? That’s because I was not in a positive, happy place but now, I see the importance of making something good out of my bad health experience and THE best way to move forward is with passion and positivity. I began by writing my stroke poetry, as my brain would only work in rhyme, and sharing this poetry on the many Facebook support stroke groups, such as Return to work after stroke, really helped me understand how others suffered and the fact I was not alone. This was very cathartic for me, as it emptied my head of the frustrations, sadness and often amusing times that are all part of stroke recovery. Many readers would thank me for my poetry and also comment that they were unable to put their own emotions into words. Here’s one of my many poems that can be found in my book A Stroke of Poetry and was taken from my own experience of mild aphasia and know that many stroke survivors suffer from Aphasia (A language disorder that affects a person’s ability to communicate).

I UNDERSTAND

Please don’t talk to me in baby talk. It really isn’t good.

Even though my words don’t come out right, I can hear; I understood

Don’t finish all my sentences. When you talk to me this way,

as it’s clear you wish I’d hurry up so we can get on with the day.

Even though my words are jumbled, and I slur to get them out,

Inside I know what I want to say so give me time and please don’t shout.

It’s important for me to process what I think I want to tell.

Even though when the words are spoken, they may not come out too well.

Buckets of patience I know you’ll need to help me through this time.

But please, oh please be mindful, they are not your words but mine.

I know my brain will heal but you must give me space.

Having a conversation does not need to be a race.

Sometimes I may not want to join in as my what anyone has to say.

But that’s okay, I do not mind, as my brain needs a rest today.

During my career as a 25 year UK Police Officer, and the latter 5 years being a Detective Inspector, I found myself stood in front of groups of officers delivering either training or simply briefing search teams in regard to serious crime matters. WOW, how my life has changed! What I am trying to say, is that the bags of confidence I had during my Police career were lost after my stroke, and even though it took a while to return, my confidence is back! Different job, but I now love standing in front of audiences; whether that be ten women from the local slimming group whilst I deliver the Stroke Foundation Stroke safe programme, or as a Motivational Speaker, sharing my story to 150+ delegates at a health conference. It is all the same. It is me, Shelagh Brennand, Stroke Survivor, Stroke Safe Ambassador and author of A Stroke of Poetry; simply sharing my stroke story. Here’s a great photo of a ‘Conversations on the Deck’ event at a local cafe; sharing stroke awareness and my stroke story with interested locals.29.3.19_Conversations on the Deck_reading poetry and raising money for Sevgen

Sharing your own stroke story does not always have to be verbal and in front of a huge crowd, as there are many opportunities to write articles, or other writers sharing your story in magazines, newspapers and other publications. I found a great resource in the website Sourcebottle.com.au; where they connect expert sources with journalists and bloggers. Once registered, I would answer many ‘shout outs’ from journalists who wanted a positive story about becoming healthier, and moving on with my life after illness. I have also recorded a number of podcasts over the years and one recorded last year with the The Phoenix Phenomen is a way of sharing my story to the world. One of my latest media articles is a feature in the July 2019 edition of That’s Life Magazine, which is distributed throughout Australia and New Zealand. There are plenty more like this on the media page of my website so have a read, and you can see the variety of ways I have shared my story over the last few years. This may give you some ideas of how you can share your story.

I often use the words ‘You have to be in it to win it’ and although putting yourself forward for things can be daunting; they can also be very much worthwhile. Last year, I won a competition to have a short documentary film about my life. It was only released last week and the amazing film company Inspireflix love to film and share inspiring stories. My film is 8.5 minutes long and I feel that it  captures my life and the story I want to tell the world. The importance of sharing my stroke story is to tell others:

  • STAY POSITIVE
  • NEVER GIVE UP
  • ALWAYS SEEK SUPPORT

Please get in touch if I can help or direct you into sharing your own stroke story and until next time, take care and stay stroke safe.

Shelagh


Brain pixabay pic

Losing your identity after stroke

Welcome back to my blog and even though it has been some time since I last wrote, I plan to be blogging more frequently, and I very much hope you enjoy what I have to say; so please feel free to share with others who may benefit from my words and perhaps leave me a comment as to what you would like to read.

In this blog, I would love to talk about the issue of losing your identity after stroke and specifically, the emotional side of stroke recovery. I was stirred to write this blog after receiving and reading a wonderful, insightful book about stroke identity (but I will come to that soon). Like many, I felt in the early days that my brain had been taken and replaced with one I did not want or even liked very much. I lost ‘me’ and so many parts of ‘me’ that I resented the person I was. My brain was slow and I had difficulty forming words and sentences. Bring on the depression and this made a great recipe for not being able to move forward with any form of positivity or focus. Does this resonate with my stroke survivor friends out there?

 

My brain worked in rhyme shortly after my stroke and this helped me enormously to deal with the emotions I was feeling;  such as the frustrations, forgetfulness and often sad times I was going through. For those who have read some of my poetry from my book A Stroke of Poetry, one poem entitled: Who stole my brain? is a perfect example of some of the emotions I felt following my stroke and I know these feelings are experienced by many stroke survivors all over the world. Who Stole my Brain poem.jpg 2

Perhaps this poem explains the seriousness of losing ‘me’ but a light-hearted touch upon the fact it is actually still OK to feel like this. As a Stroke Safe Ambassador, Motivational Speaker and passionate stroke advocate, I still campaign to have the voices heard of those who are struggling emotionally – what I refer to as one of the many invisible disabilities of stroke.

Now about this amazing book I mentioned and think we need a short drum role for the truly amazing Debra Meyerson and her recently published book Identity Theft – Rediscovering Ourselves After Stroke. I first connected with Debra, a former Stanford Professor, on Twitter some years ago, following her own severe stroke, as she was keen to conduct research with other stroke survivors. Many examples of those she has interviewed are featured in her book. Some, sadly, have not been able to accept their life changing stroke and thereby unable to move forward positively, but there are other examples of hope, inspiration and those who feel their stroke was meant to happen.Book cover - Identity Theft

Debras story and her own stroke recovery is inspirational and this book was written to help others cope with the emotional part of any stroke recovery. It follows her severe stroke that left her physically incapacitated and unable to speak and covers in detail, the emotional journey of her recovery, including the fabulous, selfless support provided by her husband and children.

I had many tears reading this book as although I am lucky to have been left with no physical disability, my early stroke recovery identified so much with Debras words, emotions and ‘day to day’ feeling of being lost in a person you once were and is the first book where I truly felt connected to what I suffered. Debra was kind enough to send me additional books so if you feel this is something you would like to read, drop me a message and let’s share the love and inspiration from the amazing Debra E. Myerson PhD.

Thanks for reading and always be ‘stroke safe’Signed copy Identity Theft

Shelagh

 

 

 

 


‘Young Stroke Survivors’ get the inside story…

Townsville Stroke Forum - 19 October 17 with OT Head Ian MeadeIn my quest to secure a dynamic guest speaker for our 2017 Townsville Hospital Stroke Forum, the Stroke Foundation recommended Shelagh Brennan, as a perfect fit to speak to our theme of ‘Young Stroke Survivors’. I emailed an invitation to Shelagh, who is based on the Sunshine Coast and immediately received a reply…Yes!!

Shelagh’s vibrant personality provided an instant lift to the stroke forum, consisting of approximately 80 multidisciplinary health professionals, as she shared with us her story before and after stroke.

Shelagh cleverly interwove excerpts from her book ‘A stroke of Poetry’ to provide a unique personal account of how she was feeling whilst in hospital and upon returning home, overcoming physical deficits and providing the audience with insight into her emotional rollercoaster post stroke. Shelagh, through the use of humour, spoke about topics often not addressed by health professionals within the hospital environment, including the effects of depression and debilitating fatigue. Shelagh also highlighted positive adjustments she made in regard to her valued roles as a wife and mother, and enabling active engagement in hobbies and other leisure pursuits.

Post the stroke forum many audience members stated that Shelagh’s presentation was the best of the day. Many also stated that listening to Shelagh’s inspiring journey challenged how they would work with their patients in the future, as they assist stroke survivors to strive for a fulfilling and enjoyable life.

Ian Meade

Occupational Therapist

Acute Stroke Unit

The Townsville Hospital ☺

Find out more or book Shelagh for your next event


helenkeller1

My FIVE Stroke Survivor tips

Hi everyone.

I was recently invited by the Stroke Foundation, to be the guest opening presenter at a Young Stroke Survivors Positive Recovery Think Tank, held here on the Sunshine Coast, near to where I live (lucky for me not having to travel!). I love to take part in these events and get joy in sharing my story about stroke and how I recovered from my post stroke depression though poetry, exercise and positive thinking.

I was asked by the Stroke Foundation to list FIVE tips that I would share with the audience. This was not difficult to do as I live by them daily. Please let me share them with you here…

TIP NO. ONE – Awaken each day and pull on those positive pants!

original_positive-pants-good-luck-cardSometimes we awaken tired, grumpy, or with our head full of the huge list of ‘jobs’ we have to do that day. Maybe the weather outside is a little miserable, cold, and the sun isn’t shining. I have to say that sometimes I awaken like that but then I clear my mind of the negative things and work out how I will get things done with a smile on my face and not a scowl. However you decide to start the day usually means it will end like that, so pull on those positive pants and meet the day with focus and determination.

 

TIP NO. TWO – Focus on what you CAN do, not what you cannot.

can-cantAfter my stroke, over four and a half years ago now, I failed to focus on what I COULD do. I wanted my ‘old’ life back and was sad and frustrated that I could no longer do the things I once did, or that my brain would not work the same way. My personal trainer and my lovely friend Melinda taught me this tip. I know that it seems easy me sharing this with you all, but it does work! Once I stopped looking back to what I could no longer do and focus upon sharing my poetry with everyone, and using my able limbs to walk, climb and run, I soon realised there were so many things I could do. It doesn’t have to be poetry or exercise, but find something that gives you joy and focus on that. Go on..give it a go!

 

TIP NO. THREE – Be grateful

thANKFULOnce again, this sounds like a very simple tip. It actually is. Even though we may have had the worst day in our week, or feel we’ve had a terrible day for a variety of reasons, there is always something to be grateful for.  Your gratefulness could be simply for the gift of life, grateful that the sun shone and dried your washing, or that the bus arrived on time to take you to work. You may be grateful that you had movement in your limbs, that had not previously moved. Having a grateful heart makes us a better person. Go on, close your eyes and see what you are grateful for today. I bet you find something.

 

TIP NO. FOUR – Celebrate your successes, however small they may be

lets-celebrateI feel we should all celebrate our achievements and focus upon the positive and the smallest of ‘wins’ can change our mood and make us feel happy. I have a stroke friend who was recently able to tie his shoe laces. This task has taken months and we all celebrated this huge achievement with him. Can you remember when your child first walked or talked, or even tied their own laces? How excited were you for them?

Many stroke survivors have the smallest of goals to work towards so its important to celebrate these when they reach them. What’s your goal or something you have achieved recently?

 

TIP NO. FIVE – Love and live your life every single day

love_live_life_by_nikster08For those of you that follow my blogs, either on my website, on my Facebook page or on Enableme, then you will know how passionate I am about living my life to the full. Yes, I often do too much and my post stroke fatigue kicks in, but it doesn’t stop me. I love being outdoors, I love exercising by the ocean and in nature and spending time with family and friends just having fun. This year, I have added some slower, more mindfulness sessions to my life such as Tai Chi/Qi Gong and Yoga. Here on the Sunshine Coast I practice these in a beautiful environment at The Farm or with Dani. Perhaps find these slower forms of exercise that give time for just ‘you’ and share them with us.

I am not saying that you should follow these five tips, BUT they work for me and even if you haven’t had a stroke or a life changing illness, perhaps being more mindful about how you live your life isn’t such a bad thing. is it?

As always,

Stay healthy and happy.

Much love

Shelagh


Post stroke fatigue – it’s still what it is!

POST STROKE FATIGUE

It just hits me like a freight train! Little warning and BAM! I bet many of my stroke followers feel the same.

I wrote a blog a few months ago about Post Stroke Fatigue but have rehashed it due to the fatigue I have felt this week. Nothing much has changed this year with my fatigue, but I am still glad to say that as time goes on, although the stroke fatigue comes ‘a calling’….I do seem to recover better than I did at first. Always keep positive and hope that this little video puts your stroke fatigue into perspective and helps others understand that there is little you can do about it other than deal with it when its there.

Please let me know how you cope (or not) as may be the case.

Take care.

Shelagh

 


procrastination is the fear of time

Procrastinators – read this NOW!

How many procrastinators do we have among us? I am standing tall with my hand firmly raised in the air, shouting “YES!” I am one of them. Not all the time, but certainly enough on some days where it greatly affects what I get done.Dog procrastination

It’s Monday morning and I write my list of goals/actions/intentions to get me through the week. Up until a few weeks ago, my list used to be so long, I would have never got through it in a month, let alone a week. The list seemed daunting and I chopped and changed from one task to the next. Sometimes it became so overwhelming that I found other ‘useful’ things to do. By not getting through the dreaded list meant what I had to do was even more overwhelming..and so on. This attitude also reminds me of my son’s homework schedule!

I saw a post from another network site this morning about her procrastination and although this blog isn’t stroke related, it made me realise that perhaps I was blaming my lack of focus and procrastination about blogging on my stroke fatigue, and confusing brain. I seem to have deliberated so long about what to ‘blog’ that it has been almost three months since I posted a new blog. Time to make amends!

There is a famous saying: “Procrastination is the thief of time” (Edward Young), as my younger sister Patricia quoted to me not many weeks back. This got me thinking that so many of my Facebook posts and information could easily be turned into blogs, so, from now on, I will certainly try and procrastinate less, and just get on with it! My lists are starting to feature only 3-5 major tasks in the week and I am at last getting things done.

proc 4Here are 9 tips courtesy of www.unstuck.com). Have a read and let me know how you go.

  1. Remind yourself that there’s always more to be done than can be done. Then ask yourself if you’re getting the right things done.
  2. Make a smart to-do list by including only the items that you’re avoiding, not the ones you know you’ll do anyway. Then set deadlines.
  3. Break the task down to lessen the sense of being overwhelmed. Once you start to enjoy an accomplishment or two, you’re more likely to keep going and finish.
  4. Eliminate temptation to do something else. (Facebook being a HUGE distraction for many
  5. Bargain with yourself. If you finish the business plan now, you can go to the movies later.
  6. Focus on the success you will achieve and the joy you will feel.
  7. Come up with a consequence that will deter you from avoiding the task. If you don’t make dinner at home twice a week, you can’t go out on the weekend.
  8. Ask someone to help you complete the task.
  9. Make your intentions public. This will add pressure, but for some of us, avoiding embarrassment is the mightiest motivator.

Until the next time…have a wonderful week and procrastinate no more!

Stay healthy and happy

Shelagh

 


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Stroke fatigue – it is what it is!

I decided to publish this blog about post stroke fatigue because even though I am four years’ post stroke, I still get that feeling, quite unexpectedly, that I have been hit by a very fast freight train! For those who do not fully understand the fatigue suffered by stroke survivors, it is not like “Oh, I must close my eyes for a few minutes as I feel tired,” sort of feeling but it is an all-consuming fatigue that takes over your body and mind. Your limbs ache and throb, your migraine starts and you just cannot function and need quiet and rest. This fatigue can last for hours, days and sometimes weeks, dependent upon the person and their fatigue. To fully understand this fatigue, please watch this video prepared by the Stroke Foundation as it helps put things into perspective. Many of my close friends and family did not fully understand the fatigue I suffer until they watched this video.

As most of you know, I no longer ‘work’, as in paid employment but I am involved in a number of projects. Over recent weeks, I have been busy organising a Pop-up Book Shop, marketing my book A Stroke of Poetry, sending email information for my Stroke Safe Ambassador presentations, and conducting the presentations. I’ve been interviewed for articles in local magazines, Sunshine Coast Daily and taken part in a local radio interview. Also, as Vice President of the Vintage Calendar Girls Inc., I have been working hard helping with the administration, strategic planning, photo shoots and recently flew to Sydney with the VCG team to photograph Kochie, the Sunrise presenter, with our two lovely VCG ladies. Wow! I think I’m tired reading that! I tried to keep up with my running schedule but sadly, that fell by the wayside as I could feel my fatigue creeping in!

Two weeks ago, that all familiar freight train decided to stop at my station and linger a little too long for my liking, so I made the decision to cancel some arrangements and take a few days rest and now, seem to have bounced back. My husband, David, commented that a couple of years ago, I could only keep going at a moderate pace for 3 to 4 days before I crashed, and it would take a week at least to get me back on my feet. When you put it into perspective, then clearly my fatigue is improving, it’s just perhaps poor management on my behalf.

Many stroke survivors ask me how to manage fatigue and will it ever leave me? Having read this blog, I don’t think I am the best role model and believe it is something I have to live with and limit the number of projects I become involved with. As someone who likes to be on the go constantly, this is very hard for me and learning to say ‘No’ I find difficult. As David succinctly put it…”We need you too so please take care of yourself” and self-management is utterly important  to avoid crashing and having to rest for days after. I take the view “It is what it is” and although it provides such limitations, it is here to stay. 

For further advice from the Stroke Foundation, hop onto Enableme, as they have a host of amazing tips, blogs from other stroke survivors and some podcast information.

Please let me know what your advice is and how you manage your own fatigue and maybe I can share it around. Perhaps I can learn a few things myself. So, if you see me in an exhausted heap, just give me a hug, buy me a coffee and that will be the start to feeling better.

As always, stay healthy and happy.

Much love

Shelagh

 


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Stroke Inspiration – it’s out there if you look for it!

When we think about inspiration, what image or feeling does that conjure up? Would it be fair to say that we are more inspired by ordinary people who have done amazing or extraordinary things? The Oxford Dictionary define inspiration as: The process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.(mass noun). Since my stroke, four years ago, I became inspired by others. I read books, journals and followed those on Facebook and the internet who I felt had moved on with their lives following a great setback. My close friends I have come to know; Ida Dempsey and Neil Collie trained to run marathons and they too, had suffered major setbacks after stroke. If they could do that…then what reason did I have not to do the same? They were my inspiration to run.

Meaning of life

Many people tell me I am an inspiration.  Yes, I moved forward with my life in a positive way, I too began running and wrote my poetry. Yes, I self published my book, A Stroke of Poetry, and I am training for my next 10km run in June and I now deliver Stroke Safe presentations to the local communities but I do not feel inspirational in the sense of the word, but feel I have a purpose and meaning in my life to share my experiences in order to help others. If others see me as an inspirational person, then surely that’s a good thing. I feel like I am just me. Just ordinary Shelagh with a positive mindset and a desire to get better and fitter everyday and tell the whole world that they can live a happy, positive life. I am part of a Facebook group, Attempt 2 Run After Stroke, where stroke survivors share their experiences of being able to run and swap running advice. This week, I read a post from one of the members, who is now my friend and has approved me posting his comment. His name is Lama Nishit, a ‘nearly 44’ stroke survivor from Darjeeling, who suffered his stroke 2 years ago. This is his post..

“Doctors said I had a massive stroke, I was almost dead. It was more than three hours before I received any treatment. I might not have been here today if my concerned colleagues hadn’t travelled to my place when my flat owner had called them. They then took me to Krishna institute of medical sciences. I had an ischemic stroke, a blood clot in the brain. I was given statins ,aspirin and many more injections and medications to thin the blood. Oh and they inserted stents in my clogged arteries. Once my condition was stable, I began rehabilitation. Luckily I stayed in the hospital for 15 days. I was devastated, I thought my life was over. My right side was completely paralysed and I was in a wheelchair but I tried to remain positive and take one day at a time. Lifestyle may have raised my risk of a stroke. As a smoker, I had developed a two pack a day habit. I drank occasionally and neglected my fitness over work. Stroke does not discriminate by age, it can happen to anyone, anywhere, anytime. So folks you can prevent strokes by making healthy lifestyle choices. Strokes can happen to healthy people too. The risk factor is higher among people who do not follow a healthy lifestyle.”

Lama

  Lama Nishit

I have followed Lama on his running journey now for several months and he is truly an inspiration to me and many others who follow his progression from what you read above, to a stroke survivor who is now running and determined to keep running. Lama comments: “In order to feel better, you have to feel good about yourself.” That is very true and if anyone out there feels that they cannot move forward, please seek advice from the Stroke Foundation or hop onto Enableme to seek inspiration from others who have had the same feelings that you are now experiencing. Email me or contact me through Facebook. Remember you are not alone in your recovery.

Please let me know how you go, whether this is with your exercise or any small part of life that you have improved since your stroke..I would love to hear about it.

Stay healthy and happy always.

Shelagh

 


Sensory overload post stroke – it’s not music to our ears!

DoesSensory overload n’t every girl (well, soon to be 54 year old woman) like to go out, have fun and PARTY?! I know I always looked forward to a great night out with the girls, a meal out with friends and in fact, any social occasion really, as many of my UK girlfriends will still tell attest to! (Keep your stories to yourselves ladies). The Beastie Boys sang….”You gotta fight for your right to party  and it would be true that since my stroke, my party days diminished almost immediately but I am happy to say that I have been fighting for my right to party ever since, and gladly, the social scene for me is once again returning…slowly…but returning. I hear you ask…‘Why does having a stroke prevent you from going out and having fun?’ Not including the fact you are recovering and somewhat fatigued, there are just TWO words that affect all stroke survivors. SENSORY OVERLOAD

Sensory overload happens when too much sensory stimulus is occurring at once — it can be triggered by a crowded room, a TV turned up too loud, strong aromas, fluorescent lighting — or a hundred other things. Many stroke survivors experience this feeling, which causes further fatigue, migraines and the general feeling of being unwell.

Do you experience this feeling? Do you worry that it will never go away? As I approach my four year ‘stroke’ anniversary, I reflect upon a poem I wrote for my book A Stroke of Poetry. I was a very sociable person pre-stroke and loved going to parties and I found the frustration of not being able to continue to do this, extremely sad and overwhelming. Please read my poem and then I will tell you how I feel now, because it does get better over time. I am happy to say that I am once again a Sunshine Coast socialite!

 

The party animal no more

I used to love to go out socialising, with friends and family.

But nowadays, the evenings are somewhat of a chore for me.

I have to rest before I go, or I’m shot by half past eight

Forget it now if you want me to drink as well as stay up late.

 

I love my food and like a drink, but not in the same vein as before

If I try you’d have to pick me up from the restaurant floor.

The noise and chatter are just too much; I just don’t stand a chance

And as for any live music, well please don’t expect me to dance.

 

When I get tired, my slurring starts, it’s not too good to hear.

Then a burning sensation starts in my face and goes from ear to ear.

It starts off in my ears, moves to my cheeks and flows to my head.

The throbbing, burning pain I feel, I just need to go to bed.

 

The brain ache, well, it then takes hold; I can’t stop it, although I try.

I just have to excuse myself right then and there before I start to cry.

My friends, they know me now so well and do not despair with me.

Our get-togethers suit my tired brain, they are as quiet as can be.

 

The places that we go, where there is little noise

They help me so immensely, and I’m grateful for choice.

A party animal, I once was, but for now I’ll take it slow.

There are plenty of quiet places to choose for me to go.

 

So the evenings, they’re spent mainly home, cuddling with my son

Now, is that such a hardship as I’m such a lucky mum?

That poem was written during my period of post stroke depression, where I desperately tried to fend off my negative feelings and heartache because I wanted to be the ‘old’ me. I didn’t like the ‘new’ me as I couldn’t go out, I hated noise, I detested crowded spaces and noisy chatter. I began to suffer migraines with any small amount of sensory overload. My friends were supportive but I really did not want them to know how bad I felt.

My husband David and son Patrick adore listening to rock music but I could not listen to any music in the house for fear of headaches. I could only meet with one person at a time as the added chatter was too overbearing for me. So, what did it do? I made excuses. Yes, I didn’t tell friends that I was unable to attend an event because of my sensory overload, but I lied to them to avoid having to explain how I felt. I was embarrassed about the fact I could not hold a simple conversation without getting a headache. I could not visit restaurants or bars because they were noisy either with music or full of people all talking at the same time.a true friend

I recall an upsetting conversation with a close friend. I had declined an invite to an important event for her and she discovered that I had lied. Her reaction was “I understand how you feel. You can tell me the truth. I am your friend.” Gladly, she is still one of my close friends but I had to tell her that she didn’t understand. Unless you have been through a stroke, the anxiety of not being able to continue as ‘normal’ and the added stresses of going out, nobody knows how you feel. However, I did learn that good friends are there to support you and help you through the tough times, if you let them in. Once I realised that, my life became easier and friends and family accommodated my needs whenever we ventured into the big wide world of socialising.

This year, I went to my first concert since my stroke and saw the amazing Adele at the Gabba in Brisbane. I took my ear plugs but I didn’t need them. Yes, it was loud, but there was little chatter between my sister Patricia and my friend Angela so I could focus and listen to the music. It was brilliant. I sang and danced and had a ball. Last Sunday, I drove with my husband David to Sirommet Wines in Brisbane and enjoyed the voices of Cyndi Lauper and Blondie. Wow! This was very loud. Eventually my ears adjusted and again, because there was only David and I and not a huge crowd of people chattering away, I could focus on the music, sing loudly, dance stupidly and thoroughly enjoy the concert.

It was halfway through the concert that I actually realised that I had no ringing in my ears, no headache and felt well. It has taken me four years to feel this way and it felt good. It does take time. be patient and you will get there. I promise.

Here are five simple tips which may help you cope with sensory overload. For further information, please visit Enableme, which is managed by the Stroke Foundation and answers any problems you may have.

 

  • Take a sensory break – you may feel overstimulated by conversation, so excuse yourself politely. If you are outside of home, visit the rest rooms or take some air outside. If at home perhaps consider a rest somewhere quiet. All my friends know of my stroke issues now so most of all….be honest. They understand your needs.
  • Find a balance – it is important that your basic needs are met so please don’t feel you have to sit at home lonely for fear of overstimulating environments. Try things in small doses. It may not work at first but keep trying.
  • Set your limits – try visiting busy places at quieter times of the day, or meet with friends at a place that has no live music. You may need to limit the duration of conversations.
  • Give yourself time to recover – it may takes hours or days to recover from an episode of over stimulation. Ensure you take needed rest and ‘alone’ time is the best option.
  • Consider coping mechanisms to deal with over stimulation – have you thought of yoga and/or meditation? I have taken up yoga this year and love it. It certainly works for me.

Please let me know how you go and if you are struggling with sensory overload. Send me a message  with any similar issues you face and perhaps some tips on how you cope.

Until the next time,

Stay healthy and happy

Shelagh