Thanks to my physiotherapy team

A patient pays tribute to his empowering stroke rehab experience

On the last day of March I suffered a stroke which left me speechless and paralysed down my right side. On 1 April I was seen by a consultant at Watford General Hospital in the acute stroke ward, where I demonstrated some movement in my right leg and arm. By the following morning that movement had gone. They said the stroke had not finished. 

The next two weeks were the worst of my life. Surviving a stroke is the easy bit. Adjusting to the many changes it brings is where the hard work begins. I am a 63-year-old man with a good education. But today I write and talk like a child and am physically less able than my father who is in his 90s. 

This disease doesn’t discriminate between the young and old. The demands on the ward where I stayed were high with every bed taken. However the care and support I received was exceptional and I thank all the very special people who work in the acute stroke unit at Watford General.

Between leaving Watford and going home I spent my time at the Holywell Neurological Rehabilitation Centre, part of the Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust where I was allocated two very special individuals, Raveena Sharma, a physiotherapist, and Jo Law, an occupational therapist who along with other specialists oversaw my progress from bed-ridden to walking and talking.

The physio gym sessions were intensive and as hard as they needed to be. In week one I called out to Krishna Gundapudi – the specialist neuro-physio lead and Raveena ‘I want walk’. I surprised myself by blurting out my demands but, ever accommodating, they had me on my feet within a short period of time. A few weeks later I was walking with the aid of a quad stick. I left the unit with a single point walking stick. 

I was accommodated when I requested hydrotherapy and Krishna and Raveena were excellent with me in the water. I continued to develop a good relationship with Jo and she worked hard to develop movement in my right arm while all the time making preparation for the time that I returned home. She gave me details of the clinic in Queen Square (part of the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery) where I am now registered.

This stroke epidemic is silent and hidden. I know it’s a long road ahead but with the start that I have been given at Holywell, and their encouragement on the way, I aim to achieve my goals. I know my life will never be the same again but to experience the good you have to experience the bad, as my old dad says.

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