Thursday, 31 January 2013


Imagine living life as an immortal. The world around you gliding through the seasons, everyday a change occurring, whether it be life changing, or excruciatingly mundane, yet you're not floating along with it. In a heartbeat gentle buds escape from stark, skeletal tree branches, accenting that the brutal cold is now a memory, as sunshine forges it's way into people's hope, creating false promise everyday until the first leaf fall-a sure sign of the cycle beginning once more. Imagine watching people live what they believe is a normal life, with every confidence in themselves that they know what the future holds, their plans exciting them, the unknown nonexistent. Imagine being at a standstill, time ticking away, yet you are stark, a statue. Imagine watching people achieve, progress, even fall back a few paces, while you wait for life to remember you. While you beg to live again. Imagine.

I was beginning to fall in to a routine just like I had done on the ward. I was woken up by mum every week day when Chris was at uni, and she helped me to the bathroom and stood with me as I brushed my teeth. She then proceeded to sit me on the toilet seat as she undressed me for my shower and then gently washed me as I sat on my new bath bench. Mum would then go on to help me get dry and dressed in to comfy day clothes and she would help me downstairs to my now allocated spot on the settee, while she made my breakfast and I nonchalantly flicked through the usual drawl that is daytime TV. 
We had had at least one visitor every day since leaving hospital. Each of them wanting to know the story of what had happened and how I had been affected, what the prognosis was and how I felt about it. I tried to be upbeat for each of my visitors and engaged in whatever conversation they wanted to involve me in, but it was painfully difficult to ignore the tiredness that plagued my whole being from the moment I awoke till the precious second I lay my head on my pillow. 
As it had been in hospital, napping was very much still an integral part of my new daily regime. At times I would fall asleep while Mum was still entertaining a guest, but I was never chastised for what some may deem a very rude thing to do. People pitied me... I pitied me. 
The penultimate film of the Twilight series, 'Breaking Dawn pt1' was out in the cinema, and on a day where I felt particularly upbeat I decided I'd like to go to the cinema and watch it with my family. As a fan of the Twilight saga I had been anticipating this film and didn't want to wait till it was out on DVD to watch it. I asked my Mum if we could all go and see it and with a grim expression of uncertainty, she reasoned the request with my Dad and they finally agreed.
I had napped in the afternoon of course, and so was sure I'd make it through the film without falling asleep. 
I was helped in to the front seat of my Dads car while Chris, Mum and Anna squashed in to the back. We waited as Dad wrestled the wheelchair in to the boot, and then we made our way to the Trafford Centre. All of a sudden I felt quite unsettled at the prospect of going to a place filled with strangers. I was nervous about the thought of seeing people we recognised and having to make polite chit chat and also worried about the sympathy stares I would get from passers by I didn't know, just because I was in a wheel chair.
I attempted to bury my anxiety's in to the back of my mind, eager to enjoy an outing with my family, desperate to have a night out as close to normal as possible in the state I was in. 
When we arrived and parked up, I waited as everyone piled out of the car, turning my head to see Chris heave the wheelchair out of the boot and assemble the foot rests... My carriage awaited. 
Dad wrapped his arm around me and gently helped me exit the car and assisted as I reseated myself in the chair. My heart strained with embarrassment as I received my first mercy look, and I felt my cheeks warm in discomfort. 
Both Dad and Chris tried to make light of the situation and both had me giggling as they ran pushing the wheel chair and when the path was clear, let go of the chair handles, so that for a couple of seconds I was wheeling along on my own with absolutely no means of being able to stop myself. I loved the men in my life for being so silly and carefree. They didn't treat me like I was delicate glass waiting to be broken. They made everything not so bleak. Thank God for them.
We made our way through the Trafford Centre and went in the lifts up to the cinema complex. I waited with my sister and Chris as Mum and Dad went to buy the tickets and I allowed myself to get a little bit excited about watching the film.
I focused on chatting to Chris and Anna, who I felt, without them knowing so, were acting as my bodyguards, protecting me from the prying eyes of passers by. 
I was eager to get in to the screen room that was showing our film where it would be dark and I could focus on the story and be confident that everyone else's attention would lie within the projection too.
Mum and Dad waved us over when they had paid for the tickets and discussed wheelchair formalities, and when Mum had checked that I felt well enough to watch the film and I convinced her I was excited, we followed a bustling crowd to claim our seats in the theatre.
I watched as the beautiful people on the screen laughed and cried their way through the fictional drama, and found myself sighing away the weight of my own storyline and immersing myself in the very made up lives of these layered characters. 
I clung on to Chris's hand as I clung on to the normality of my current situation, guessing by how long we had been in the cinema that there couldn't be much more of the film left. I didn't want it to end as I had enjoyed it so much, but I was also pleased with how successful the outing had gone.
The film was nearing a crucial point and I was deeply involved in the scene until I heard my Dad shout for my Mum. 
My attention was clawed away from the film and I searched for my Dads face in the darkness to see what he wanted my Mum for.
'She's swallowing her tongue... Anna's swallowing her tongue. Quick! Call an ambulance!'
Mum leaped from her seat to Anna's aid, while Chris ran from the theatre to get help from staff and call an ambulance. 
I looked on from my seat at the very real scene that was occurring just feet away from me, and then my head began to feel funny, as though it was falling through space and not reaching a landing point. The last thing I remember was reaching out and grabbing the back of my Mum's t-shirt begging her to help me, as I slammed in to an unconscious state...

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Swish Swoo

Having a stroke has actually made my life quite exciting, I get asked to do things and go to things that previously I would never have known about.
Back in November I had an email from a friend at the Stroke Association telling me about a girl of a similar age to me wanting to put on a charity fashion show in Liverpool, in aid of raising money for the Stroke Association.
Of course I was interested.
Being a young Stroke Survivor the message I always want to get across is that there is Life After Stroke.
This message is something the girl who wanted to put on the fashion show also wanted to put out there.
Her request was for me to make a speech about my life pre stroke, then tell people the story of when I had my stroke, but most importantly, my life after stroke.
I was nervous about standing up in front of a room full of people and telling my story, but I want to get the message out there.
I had to ignore my nerves, put on my biggest smile, get out there and do it... So I did.
Here is a video of my speech.
Also an explanation about the man who is standing next to me... I couldn't hold a microphone and my speech at the same time, and apparently they couldn't find me a microphone stand... So I made a new, half dressed friend...