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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


it-is-what-it-is

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