June is aphasia awareness month, helping to raise the profile of the condition. Aphasia is when a person has difficulty with their language or speech, and it’s usually caused by damage to the left side of the brain – for example, after a stroke.
When Allan’s wife Glynis suffered a stroke at home he was scared and uncertain, but he’s found hope at our Aphasia Café – a group run fortnightly at Barnsley Metrodome to help people with the condition to practise their language skills in a real life situation. He explains:
We have all heard of people suffering strokes. Someone tells you and you think, ‘how very sad’. You know it’s a serious matter, but unless it is something that happens close to home, to you, or to someone you know, it’s hard to really appreciate what a stroke is all about, and what it really means.
That all changed for us in the early hours of a June morning in 2016.
We had gone to bed as normal the previous night, with absolutely no idea of what was about to happen, or how our lives would change forever in just a few short hours.
Waking up to find your life partner in obvious trouble, unable to speak, is one of the worst things I have ever experienced. The memory still haunts me. Calling an ambulance at dawn while trying to comfort and care for someone with such inexplicable and distressing symptoms is, to say the least, surreal and frightening.
Ten weeks later, Glynis emerged from hospital a very different person. Summer had been and gone, Autumn was here and the house had been transformed in order to adapt to all the new equipment we needed in order to begin a new way of life.
That is a very sobering moment. New equipment, new procedures, new medication, exercises, a whole new way of living, sleeping, moving, existing.
The medical and the help systems were wonderful. From the emergency crew right at the front of it all, through to the hospital, the recovery unit, the nursing staff, the way they showed care and concern for Glynis as well as myself, the home aftercare and the care agency that still provides the help we need.
Being introduced to the Aphasia cafe was a boon. We look forward to each session. It has been such a help to Glynis. We have met some wonderful people we would otherwise never have known, be they friends, volunteers, therapists, or other carers. They have all been instrumental in providing the help and support we badly needed while struggling to come to terms with everything that happened, and also the encouragement required to accept our new way of life.
Now, when we hear of people suffering a stroke, our reaction is so different to what it used to be. Stroke is a life changer. But it doesn’t have to be the end. It’s a whole new journey, one of continual improvement, where any success is appreciated and celebrated.
While it is a journey that nobody would ever ask for, it is certainly one which has been full of friendship, support and encouragement in so many ways. And that, in itself, is something to be very thankful for.