It was a sunny Monday afternoon 26th March 2018. I had taken early retirement the previous August and we had just returned from the funeral of a man who died suddenly from a massive heart attack. I was doing some gardening when I suddenly had a very strange feeling come over me, which was like pulse waves going through my body. I sat down on the grass and knelt over a garden bench when my left arm and hand flopped onto the ground. It would be the last time I would use my arm and hand possibly for the rest of my life, but I immediately knew I was having a stroke. Duncan (my partner) saw me collapse and quickly came and telephoned for the ambulance. Then the ambulance was there and all I can remember is vomiting over the side of the stretcher. Before getting in the ambulance I insisted they took my old trainers off as I didn’t want to be seen out in them as they were so old and filthy. I remember nothing of the ambulance journey (with all the blue lights – boy I missed my own drama episode!) Apparently, I was holding Duncan’s hand tightly and would not let go!
Thus began one of the most frightening and difficult journeys of my life – a journey that included a near death experience on two occasions and left me with a dread that it might happen again with a further stroke, and all that might include and mean. But it was also a journey of hard work towards recovery, and a huge experience of loss as my impaired mobility would mean I would no longer be able to do so many things. I would not be able to use my left leg or arm and hand. Would I ever be able to walk again, ride my bike, drive my car, play the piano, do my gardening, decorate the house and many other things?