Stroke

Gavin - Interview 63

Male
Age at interview: 47
Age at diagnosis: 45

Brief outline: Gavin is a 47 year old media representative/spokesperson. He lives at home with his wife and two children. He is not working right now because of his stroke, but hopes to return to some type of work one day. His ethnic background is White British.

Background: Gavin is a 47 year old media representative/spokesperson. He lives at home with his wife and two children. He is not working right now because of his stroke, but hopes to return to some type of work one day. His ethnic background is White British.

Audio & video

 

Gavin had a haemorrhagic stroke in 2008 while at home alone doing maintenance work. He felt “massive pins and needles” down his left arm and leg causing him to collapse. When he tried to get up he realised that he was completely paralyzed down his left side. He recognised that he was having a stroke and managed, with difficulty, to call for an ambulance. During the process of dragging himself to a phone he could feel his physical and cognitive abilities slipping away. He managed to mumble his postcode into the phone and an ambulance arrived shortly after.
 
While in hospital, Gavin was in critical condition with a 50-50 chance of survival. He pulled through and received hospital care for 5 months. He spent his first month on a hospital stroke unit and then transferred to a neuro-rehabilitation hospital for the remaining four months. He received physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy while in hospital and was very happy with his care.
 
The stroke has left him with some mobility limitations (walks with a stick), limited movement in his left hand, vision problems (hemianopia on the left side) and spasticity (uncontrolled clenching of muscles in his left hand and toe). He also experiences fatigue which he manages by balancing daily activities with rest. He has regained his speech.
 
A significant challenge for Gavin was returning home after hospital to face the challenges of everyday life. He described his return home as “jumping off a cliff” where the comforts and treatment regimen of the hospital were suddenly gone. The transition was difficult not only for him, but for his wife and two young boys. His wife had to take on more responsibilities (take care of him in addition to their two sons) while his sons had to accept the changes in their father. He acknowledges the difficulty in trying to recover, while being a father and a husband, but has used his determination to fuel his recovery.
 
In addition to the support from his family, Gavin received formal support services after he was discharged from hospital, including assistance with dressing and bathing from personal care workers. He cancelled this care service after two weeks because he was able to do these activities independently and safely. He also received support from a visual impairment team who shared with him techniques to help him adapt to having partial vision. He continues to receive support from a local organisation with tasks around the house such as yard maintenance. He has found (through his own research) many assistive devices that enable him to do more activities independently (e.g., a mobile phone that reads documents to him, a bath chair, and a mobility scooter).
 
The biggest adjustment for Gavin has been the loss of his job as a media spokesperson (due to the stroke). He does not expect to return to the same job but hopes to return to work in some form in the future.
 
Since his stroke, Gavin has maintained his passion for public speaking and nature conservation. For example, he joined a local speaker’s club where he has won many awards. He also spends time outdoors in his garden growing vegetables. In addition to these hobbies he tries to contribute around the house when he can (e.g., takes his sons to school, cooks with his wife, and helps care for his sons).
 
His message to other stroke survivors is' “You will make improvements and those improvements are worth having, even if they’re not complete and perfect, it is worth getting back what you can.”

 

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