I’ve been a little nervous about sharing this post and I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve written it and then binned it. What’s to be scared of? Well, putting into words what happened is hard, but publishing it online has made me anxious about the reaction I’d get; would people care, would they comment, would they think I was being over the top? And with any of those, how would I feel as a result? Silence can be the worst sometimes, so those fears put me off. But time has gone on and I feel braver and more confident that sharing is a good thing. I want to share what happened to Dad and I hope that even if just one person reads it and digests what happens it means they may one day save someone’s life or improve their chance of recovery should (and I hope not) a stroke happen.
I’ve broken this post into two – should you want to skip a part; 1) how I’m raising funds by crocheting purple flowers, and why and 2) what happened to Dad at the beginning of the year, and how it could so easily have happened to anyone at any age.
Handmade purple flower badges for Make May Purple
The month of May is Stroke Association‘s annual fundraising month, Make May Purple, and to help raise funds for the charity I am making and selling these pretty flower crochet badges for a £3 donation, all you have to do is pop over to my JustGiving page to make a donation and I’ll put one in the post to you. All donations go directly to the charity and a big thank you to Lucy from Attic 24 for allowing me to use her flower pattern.
The idea with these flowers is to wear them throughout May and hopefully it’ll prompt conversation and raise awareness. I’ve worn pins on my coat before and often people in shops and the likes comment, so I really hope that happens with these flowers.
At the time of writing this I’ve raised just over £300(!) and hope to raise lots more throughout May. I’ll be busy crocheting these flowers now and until the end of May and I hope this money will help the wonderful work Stroke Association are doing; their website was a great support to my family and me and continues to be as Dad recovers.
What happened to Dad
Back at the very start of January my Dad had two strokes, one around New Year’s Eve and one on the 4th January. Between those two dates we’d had a family meal for my 30th birthday and all said separately how Dad had behaved a little oddly, but put it down to the fact he had a heavy cold and may have taken a bit too much Lemsip. How I wish I’d known. The second stroke, on the 4th, was more severe and caused him to fall at home. When he didn’t turn up for work his boss raised the alarm and called my sister. I’ll never forget the moment my sister called us and said “something’s wrong with Dad”. Thinking he had concussion, to then hear he’d been rushed to hospital after a suspected stroke was terrifying.
A day later and an MRI scan confirmed he’d had 2 strokes and that the reason for this was due to a perforated artery in his neck – most likely caused when he had a fall while walking in the Lake District the previous April. By this point Dad was walking, talking, eating and his face had return to normal, but cognitively there was damage and he’d lost some of his vision.
After a week in hospital Dad was allowed home to the care of a community team. The community team were there to help him in his recovery for 12 weeks, visiting him on average about 3 times a week. During this time they also helped with doctor’s appointments, advised on how he’d return to work and provided a general support. He thankfully passed his visual test and was allowed to return to driving 2 months after the stroke and the follow up MRI showed his artery has healed, so the chance of another stroke is minimal. In April he begun slowly returning to work, for a few hours every other day.
While the headlines are really great news, Dad’s recovery continues and will do for a long time yet. The brain is a funny old thing and is taking its time to heal. He’s getting there and I’m so proud at how determined he’s been to get back to his old self. He tells me he plans to beat this and live on to 100 now. If anyone can do it, he can.
The point I have to mention is that Dad was 58 when it happened, healthy, eating well and regularly exercising. There are a set of risk factors behind why a stroke might happen, but the reality is they can happen for any reason to anyone at any age. The consultant told us the damage Dad did to his neck could have happened to someone turning their neck funny, which is so scary. We largely can’t prevent a stroke happening, but what we can do is be aware of the signs when one happens – that’s what ensures our loved ones are kept safe and they have the best chances at full recovery. Please head over to this webpage to see those signs and understand them. That’s my hope from this post, that you’ll just take 2 minutes to familiarise yourself with the signs.
All that I’d like to do now is say a big thank you to everyone who sent my family and me kind messages when it happened, and to people who continue to provide a support to Dad and all of us. It’s not been the easiest of times, but we’ll get there. Raising funds is helping me to feel like I’m turning this situation into a positive.
Thank you for reading and, if you can, please donate £3 to my JustGiving page and wear a purple flower badge this month to raise awareness.
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