Wednesday, 12 September 2012


Sitting on the hospital chair with the table on wheels resting above my knees, I was attempting to do a jigsaw puzzle, trying with all my might to motivate my left arm, hand and fingers to do some of the work. The picture I was trying to create with the jigsaw pieces, was of a box of chocolates. I tried to enjoy it but I was so bored. I knew it was good therapy for my arm though, so I carried on, forcing a smile to all the staff that popped their heads round my door, to 'Check how I was getting on.' How I kept my eyes from rolling, I'll never know.
Finally there was a knock at my door from someone who didn't want to congratulate me on my jigsaw skills, and a familiar blonde haired, tattoo'd and pierced figure entered the room, followed by a more timid looking, young woman carrying a clip board.
It was the psychologist and her accomplice.
Mum and Anna who had been having the age old 'homework argument,' were asked if they wouldn't mind leaving the room while the psychologists did whatever it was they had come to do. With uneasy eyes I followed them as they left the room, and Mum  looked back giving me a reassuring nod before the door clicked shut.
One of the psychologists made a remark about how appetising the chocolates on the jigsaw looked, and trying hard to sound genuine I agreed with her, though truthfully I had begun to despise those chocolates.
The psychologists had come to conduct a few tests with me. They wanted to see how my memory was doing and also test how my brain was working logically.
I began to feel nervous, and little flutters started to develop in my tummy.
What if I didn't pass?
What if something was wrong with my memory and I just hadn't noticed?
The lead psychologist must have seen my face change, and attempted to reassure me that this was very routine and that there was nothing to worry about.
Here goes...
First I was asked things about myself: My name. My date of birth. My star sign. My address.
Then I was asked things such as, What year was it? What month were we in?
Easy peasy.
I began to relax in to the questions. The self doubt I'd had at the beginning of the session was leaving me. I was asked to listen to riddles that the psychologist would recite, and then repeat them back to her. I was also given some simple sums to do. Then a sheet of paper was put in front of me. On the paper were some diagrams. First of all I had to follow a pattern on the paper, then I was asked to draw out a clock, and with the hands of the clock represent a certain time.
If anything I was enjoying the session. It was quite reassuring doing these simple 'mind tests' because maybe there had been a little bit anxiety all along as to whether or not my mind had been affected.
The last 'test' they had for me went like this. The psychologist would say a letter from the alphabet, and I was given sixty seconds to say as many things beginning with that letter excluding things with proper names.
My letter was 'F', and the start button on the stop watch was pressed...
I started off so well. I had been an English student after all, this should have been a piece of cake. Then I began to struggle. Why couldn't I think of any damn words that began with 'F'. I started to panic myself. Maybe my mind was broken. I could see the seconds on the stopwatch going up and up, and I couldn't think straight. My heart was pounding and my cheeks were burning. I tried to swing my focus back to the task I'd been set, but it was as though I'd already admitted defeat. I had two sets of eyes, staring encouragingly and sympathetically at me. I threw as many words as I could out there before the timer of the clock went.

Beep Beep.

I sat there chewing the inside of my bottom lip, swallowing hard, tying to smile as they counted up the amount of words I had managed to say. That horribly familiar stinging around the rims of my eyes making an appearance.
Nine words.
They told me that usually they expect a minimum of eleven words, but I wasn't to worry. They could see that I'd began to panic, and under any other circumstances they were sure I'd have been able to exceed eleven words without a problem... But what if I couldn't.
The psychologists told me that I'd passed the rest of the tests with flying colours, and that there was nothing to worry about when it came to my mental abilities.
But why couldn't I just have thought of two more words.
Yet another thing where I had let myself down. Could my brain not just be on my side for once?
Not wanting to be analysed any further I tried my best to shake off my urge to cry, and smiled my biggest smile as we ended the session and said our good byes for the day.
Mum and Anna came bustling back in to the room wanting to know all about what I had been up to, and I explained to them the tests that had been conducted and what they were for. But a part of me wanted to leave out the test which I narrowly failed... So I didn't tell them. I couldn't deal with any more sympathy any more feeling sorry for me. I didn't want to hear the reassuring that I knew I would get, and them telling me not to worry because I SHOULD have passed that test easily.
The frustration I felt internally wanted to scream from within me...But no time.
I had physio to do, and we were about to tackle the stairs...

To this day, when I have a moment to myself I find myself imagining words beginning with 'F'...I should have passed.


  1. I know the feeling Bec, when your put under pressure by professionals in scary outfits my mind goes blank! When I was in hospital they asked me my name (which I swear to GOD I do know) and I panicked! And my postcode was a blank to, even though I've known it since I was 12! Its their stupid scary outfits, I swear it! I love your Blog keep up the good work lovely xx

  2. Aww that sounds okay! It sounds more like you panicked than that you genuinely couldn't think of any words. Must be so stressful at the time.

  3. I have enjoyed reading your blog, I found it through the BBC newsbeat page. I my self had a stroke last year... spooky enough in October and I was aged 21 too.
    I had been feeling dizzy for weeks but my GP told me it was because I was nervous and having panic attacks. (I had not long lost my Mum who passed away suddenly)So I just thought it was because of that.

    One day I over slept for work and couldn't get up. I dragged my self there still don't know how I got there. I felt so dizzy, double vision started etc... I felt numb on one side and my mouth dropped. I tried to stay calm and do breathing techniques but it didn't work, the first aider in work said I didnt look right so took me to A&E... I was seen straight away but they treated me as a mental health patient and told me I was having a huge panic attack... I didn't know what planet I was on so just agreed. My symptoms went and they sent me home. This was around June time in 2011... the next few months I kept going dizzy, it would only last for a few minutes then pass but it made me very confused.

    Again I went to my GP and mentioned it to my Counciller I was seeing at the time. They both told me it was nothing to worry about and panic attacks... So I tried not to worry about it.

    Got to October and again in work I had a massive one, was complety out of it and felt numb everywhere. I couldn't speak. I went straight to A&E was throwing up everywhere. I feel they didn't take me seriously at all. It must have looked like I was drunk as my coordination all went. They thought I was pregnant, I told them I wasn't. I was then asked to leave the bed I was on as there was 'iller' people then me, that pissed me off.

    Went for blood tests and had other things done to me, they told me it sounded like MS. Was in for 4 days until a neoroglist came down and told me it was a Stroke. It turns out I have had over 40 TIA mini strokes and 1 big stroke.

    They did a lumber puncher on me which went badly wrong so that damaged my back and I struggle with back pains. Thankfully the stroke didn't effect me too bad... my memory is shocking though can't remember much these days and my childhood seems to have been wiped.

    My co-ordination isn't great, I feel tired all the time. I am paranoid that people will notice my mouth even though there isn't anything wrong with it. My maths and english are poor. I shake a lot of the time too. I haven't got it as bad as you from the sounds of it not being awful.

    I am just very annoyed with the hospital they could have stopped me having a major one if they assessed me properly. They just brushed me off because I was a young adult. They told me it was mental health issues as the symptoms were similar. This is a danger I feel and more needs to be done for young people who have them. My neoroglist told me it is rare for a young person to have them, on average she said she seen only 2-5 under 25's a year...

    I feel lucky to be alive from it all but it's so upsetting. Thankfully I am back at work (work with children) finding it hard coming up to the annivarasry plus the fact I am still grieving for my Mum.

  4. Hi Becky, your blog is inspirational!! Really interesting!! I had 2 strokes in 2010 when I was 29 years old. I set up a website called, which, hopefully, helps other people who've had a stroke or people who want to find out more about strokes. I've linked it to your blog - have a look: Thanks!! :)

  5. Hi Becky.

    I happened across your story on the BBC website and remember trying to teach you music a good few years ago now. I feel quite humbled to have taught such an amazing person who has been able to turn a difficult time into hope and inspiration for so many others. My life has been comparatively easy, but you are an inspiration to me too. Hope all goes well with your recovery and all your dreams come true. You deserve it.

    Mr P

  6. Hey Becky,

    Thanks for your blog, you are an inspiration to those going through similar experiences. Thankfully I have not had a stroke but do get migraines that manifest themselves as a stroke but thankfully they pass after a few hours or days; even so I regularly end up on the stroke ward wondering if this time is it a stroke.

    I wish you well through this healing process and the journey that you are now on.

    BTW: I am struggling to think of nine words that begin with 'F'. :)

  7. Great entry, very inspiring! I look forward to following and reading your posts :)

  8. If its any help Becky I took that test at work one night and scored 25 lol first question what day is today, my answer wed, Fri no Tuesday, Tuesday was the answer lol and the number one took me and my fingers forever! Don't worry too much u were under pressure! Off to read your latest one now xx

  9. Becky
    Hi There ; )
    I saw the link to your Blog On Betty Boo's Twitter Page and Decided to Write To you.
    First Of all I'm Sorry you Are Having to Cope with a serious can't be easy I know that but it's good that you have not let youself sink into depression which would be easy aand understandable if you did.
    I hope that you Will manage to keep your Spirits up as time goes by.
    It seems like you have many people online that care about you and that is good.
    I am willing to be a friend to you even if it is just a online friendship in which I can pass by from time to time to say hello and try to help lift your spirits if you feel low and noone else is around @ the time.
    That's what friends are for( hugs)
    Ive been out and although I started off feeling Depressed( I suffer from long term Depression BTW) My spirits were Lifted when I met up with some good Friends and together we went to the same place where I met some other Good Friends and by the end I was feeling much Better.
    I hope your day has been a nice one?
    please feel free to write anytime and I will get back to you ok.
    My name is Trevor.
    OK Becky
    Take care
    Bye 4 now
    Lot's of Love from your new Friend
    Trevor xxxx