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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


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

 

 

 

 


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

 


Fundaising logo

Septembers Stroke Successes

As September draws to a close, I can say that it has been a very busy month for stroke awareness and for events involving A Stroke of Poetry. On 2 September, I attended an awards ceremony in Brisbane where I received my certificate due to being nominated as a finalist in the creative category of the Stroke Foundation Stroke awards 2016.

AwardI felt very humbled to be chosen alongside some remarkable stroke survivors and supporters of stroke and it was a lovely day. Highlighting survivors of stroke at a very young age is hugely important and I met two amazing people on that day who were more than worthy of their awards (HUGE shout out to Sarah-Jane and Macey-Lee).Awards ceremony

Stroke Week  (12-16 September) was eventful and book signings at Books of Buderim and Rosetta Books, Maleny, brought some lovely people to these bookstores, where I could share my stroke story, sell my books and raise awareness about stroke.

 

Here are some photos of my book signings and why I continue in raising awareness to fight stroke…….

 

Banner RosettasBooks of Buderim

My beautiful friend Yenny Stromgren held an exhibition of her Everyday Light Warriors interviewees at the Junction, Noosa, during the month of September. This was a huge success, as she held it on the same day as ‘R U OK?’ day and she posted two of my poems I wrote during my post stroke depression.Me at Noosa

I was very proud to have them on the wall in amongst the photographs of those inspiring people she had the pleasure to interview. Please listen to my podcast and many others on her website. Although I was ill during the evening of her opening night, I was able to see the exhibition before it was all packed away for the next venue and we managed to get some lovely photos and I thoroughly enjoy spending time with this amazing woman.

YennySo..what’s happening in October? Marketing A Stroke of Poetry will continue with great gusto as usual and although I will be supporting Breast Cancer during ‘Pinktober’ through having fun at a few events, I have been able to share some book packs as raffle prizes, so I still leave my mark!

During Queensland Mental Health Week (9-15 October), I will be presenting at Caboolture Hospital and sharing my story, specifically in relation to coping with depression and how I found inspiration through poetry and exercise.

On the exercise theme, October 29 is World Stroke Day and Melinda Bingley, my good friend who owns and operates MAB Personal Training and Adventures is organising a special boot camp where some of the proceeds will be donated to the Stroke Foundation. Check out my Events page for more details on both these events.

On a personal note, A Stroke of Poetry have sponsored a page of the Vintage Girls 2016 Calendar and I  am helping my super friend and founder, Misty Bland, organise the Vintage Calendar Girls Launch on 22 October, in aid of Rare Cancers Australia. I will be dressed in my finery once again and showing how, at 53, I can still be a front page model of a calendar! If you fancy joining us for an evening of entertainment at Old Petrie Town, hop on line to buy a ticket or calendar.

Also, and finally, I hear you gasp, with my good friend Mary Barber, Tamarind Book Club, we are hosting a Pop up Book Shop on 6 November, so I am busy helping Mary with the organisation of that event. More information on that event next month.

I believe that brings me to a close for this month!

Have a wonderful October and as always, please stay healthy and happy.

 

Much love

 

Shelagh

 

 

 

 


Write a book

Have you got a burning desire to write your own book?

Would you love to self publish the book your heart has always dreamed of writing? Then look no further….

During my stroke recovery, I wrote so many poems to help me deal with the frustrating times, the darkest moments and many amusing experiences. I always hoped that one day I could put them together in a lovely book and others who had a similar experience could read them with the knowledge that they could get better. My book sales of A Stroke of Poetry are doing really well and to read many reviews of those it has helped makes my heart sing.

I could not have ventured on this book journey without the expertise of the lovely Alex Mitchell, Author Support Services. She understood where I wanted to go with this book and together, we have achieved so much more. It was not until the second book workshop that I truly believed I had the confidence and the ability to undertake this project.

If you have a dream, just like mine, then  Alex really can make it happen for you. She is running two book workshops (see links below) which are held in her beautiful home on a pineapple farm, so such serene surroundings (and she makes yummy food!). Don’t delay…book today! Please do not just take my word for it as her website has many testimonials from other successful authors she has helped.

Snoopy

Book Planning 26th Feb:
https://www.facebook.com/events/399796513552685

Self Publishing 11th March
https://www.facebook.com/events/1067359369941260/

 

 

 


New Year quote

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to all.

It has been a few weeks since my last Blog but since the Book Launch at the end of November and a further book signing, my book is getting noticed. I have got through Christmas and I have now rested in order to recharge my low batteries, as the last few months of the year were very exhausting. Worthwhile, but exhausting. My post stroke fatigue hits me hard at these times of the year but onwards and upwards to a new year ahead.

The book sales are doing well and it seems many are ordering on line or buying my book from Graeme at The BookShop at Caloundra. Whichever way you decide to purchase, please let me know what you think and send me a review, as I would love to hear your comments.

With the New Year brings lots of new marketing ideas, plans for an audio/ebook, talks to local community/library groups and hopefully some further media attention with which to promote my book. Please keep in touch and make time to read my blogs throughout the year, if you would like to know of an event happening near you or simply to catch up on my news.

NY Day

Lastly, I would like to thank my many supporters out there, including my friends, family, those who helped me get to this point in my life and those who have so kindly purchased my book for themselves or a loved one. I most certainly could not have done this without you. I always see a new year as a new opportunity with lots of exciting and challenging times ahead. What will this New Year bring? I wonder…….