Hi, My name is Dave Im 49 and just thought I would put my story on here, I work as an Airport fire fighter doing 12hr shift of days and nights,( for 14 years) when not there I work as a on call firefighter running my own station as a Watch Manager, having to be available for 90hrs a week and responding to my pager going off (been doing that for 19 years).
On Friday the 12th May I was up and dressed in the afternoon ready to go in early for a night shift starting at 1900, I have an 80mile journey to get to work, I had just turned off the laptop finishing some paperwork for my on call station. I remember bending down to stroke the cat and as I got up it was like something pinged in my head. I sat on the sofa and my left-hand fingers just started to tap like they were not mine it looked like they were the hand off the Adams family, then I couldn’t stop my hand from shaking, then my arm and hand went completely numb. My partner called an ambulance, at this stage I went through the FAST check list (as I am medically trained at work) and nothing was showing as a stroke. I went to hospital where they thought I was having a fit. It took 5 to hold me down to sedate me for a CT scan, the scan came back clear but I was still shaking and numb on my left arm, also any bright lights were killing my eyes, that felt like they were having pins pushed in them to the back of my head and my head felt like someone was pushing a knife in my right temple all the time. Hospital sent me home that night but by midday on the Saturday the 13th I was in another ambulance going go back to A&E, I was taken for another CT with a dye in it as they thought I had a bleed on the brain, but nothing showed up, they then called an eye specialist in but nothing was found. They moved me out of A&E and on to a holding ward where I was given morphine to help the pains in my head and other drugs to relax me to stop me from shaking and stop my hand from spontaneously moving. On Sunday the 14th they did a lumber punch as they thought I might have Meningitis, that came back clear. Then on Monday 15th they sent me for a MRI scan and told me that I had an Ischemic stroke on the right of my brain and was transferred to the stroke ward, where I spent 5 days. They say that the stroke has affected my cognitive skills, memory and processing skills. I am now at home under the stroke team but find it hard to accept what has happened to me, as I can’t see anything wrong with me, as its my brain that’s affected.
I have massive fears of if I can get back to work in both jobs as a firefighter and if can I drive again (well not HGV’s for my job for a year), I think I keep being too hard on myself looking back at all I could do before the stroke and not looking at my progression day to day and what might be the new normal for me now.
Thanks for reading.
Hello @Bear. Welcome to a place where you are in good company, with those many of whom have had to find a new normal.
Early days and this a long journey.
Thank you for sharing your story, keep coming back to the forum, for company of those who understand, would certainly prefer not to be here and information which is hard to get elsewhere. All the best, Julia
@Bear welcome to the forum although sorry you had cause to join us.
Stroke recovery is a long road although is different for everyone. It takes some accepting too. I was 49 when i had my stroke & it was a couple of months behore I really accepted that i’d had a stroke even though I knew I’d been physically affected as well as cognitively.
Fatigue is a common issue post stroke & you’ll probably find you tire easily. Listen to your body & rest when you need to.
If possible try not to worry about work yet. You need to concentrate on your recovery at this stage.
Try not to focus on what you could do begore. Things have changed for now. Set yourself some small achievable goals & take it one step at a time.
Wishing you all the best.
Welcome to the forum Dave, the holy grail of all things stroke related…well, it certainly was for me 2yrs ago You sound a bit of a workaholic, could be, this is the only way your brain could tell you it was time to ease up, slow it down a tad.
For now just concentrate on the here and now while you recover. It’s slow and it’s tiring so get plenty of rest…including in the day time naps. The fastest healing is in the first 6mths, slows down after that. Don’t forget to eat well as healing eats up a lot of your energy so plenty of good healthy meals. All the best.
Oh bloody hell Dave. I’m similar age to you. I was 47 last June when I suffered a TIA followed by a right hemisphere ischemic stroke. I’ve since developed central post stroke pain 7 months ago which has really affected my recovery.
Im a counter balance fork lift truck driver and can certainly relate to your last paragraph. I have a major fear of wether I’ll be able drive again and return to work. I wish I had some magic answer for you and me both
The only advice I can offer is to work hard and be consistent with your physiotherapy and contact The Stroke Association,they’ve been incredible with me with help and advice.
Wishing all the best in your recovery Dave
Its so early in your recovery @Bear that i think your expectations are probably needing a rethink pal.
Give yourself a break - the brain is the part of us that fixes everything else thats breaks usually - but its the brain itself that needs to recover after a atroke. And that takes time.
There is no set timescale and each of us is on a different recovery journey as no two strokes are the same. I actually recovered fully from my 1st stroke on 25th May 2022 thanks to my amazing wifes knowledge of FAST approach to my symptoms but then i had a 2nd stroke in the stroke ward in hospital the day after. I too had an ischaemic stroke and im still working hard on my recovery a year on.
Accepting what has happened is the biggest hurdle in the first few weeks and months, then adapting to what might be the new you temporarily and then acting and activuties based on version 2 of Davebear.
Youre a young man and clearly physically fit too which will help your recovery.
Try and get some psychological help alongside the physio as having a positive in the moment mindset will help a lot too.
Youll get lots of advice empathy time and suggestions from the lovely people on here who all sadly know all to well what you are going through.
Hi Dave, so sorry to hear of your stroke but welcome to this forum. We are a merry band of stroke survivors of all different ages and very different types of strokes. Please feel free to ask questions or to have a moan if you feel the need. We all have good days and bad days and it’s good to share our experiences with people who truly understand what you are going through.
We look forward to hearing from you when you feel ready to jump in.
sorry that you’re here but at least you’re in the right place.
I echo what everyone else has said regarding allowing yourself the time to rest and recover. The brain needs preoper nutrition and heals best when you’re asleep but you also need to exercise it almost constantly in a repeating manner to stimulate the new pathways (just think of it like a muscle where you need both weight and reps to strengthen).
Along with the exercises recommended by the 6 week post escape team I think that I must have downloaded every brain training app in the play store when I first got out but have only continued with Brainpal and Luminosity (I don’t subscribed to either so just do the 3 free activities on each every day).
As far as worrying about whether you’ll be able to do what you did pre-stroke - I know it sounds easy but - don’t. It took me months to accept that things will be different but different does not need to mean worse. Once I got to that point I mapped out what Rich version 2.0 is going to look like (and he’s better than pre-stroke Rich) and have set goals along the way that I can measure and give me both a way ahead and a check back on progress (I specifically haven’t set timescales against these goals and sub-goals).
Also, again not easy but, don’t waste your energy on what ifs, you’re going need that energy to recovery and that recovery is going to take time.
On the day to day improvements - I had the same problem to a certain degree. Last September I had a large intercrainial bleed on my right thalamus and mid-brain that wiped out all sensations on the entire left side of my body leaving me unable to even sit upright on a bed (brain didn’t recognise that the bed was there on the left side as there was no feedback so I would simply slump on my side). 8 months on and the only sensation that i’ve got back is pain but at least that allows me to gauge if my foot is on the floor and if it is whether it is bearing my weight so I can at least walk now. These are the big steps (accidental pun) that others can see but what they can’t see is what is happening in my head so I keep a diary of not just these major achievements but also the inner stuff and when I’m having a downer (you will have them) I look back at the diary to see how far I’ve got.
Hi Dave @Bear, sorry you’ve had a stroke but welcome all the same. Two things already mentioned by most, it is super early in your recovery and you need to get rest (whether you want to or not - as your brain needs it to start rewiring).
You probably took for granted all the amazing things the super organic computer in your head does (I know did). Even if you haven’t got obvious physical loss, a chunk of brain got killed which will affect certain things. You will need to realise that you have to slow down and reassess your life. That amazing brain of yours will manage to repair itself by rerouting many of its functions but it doesn’t happen overnight and it will cause unpredictable fatigue which you can learn to manage. I’m 2 years post stroke and have been back at work for more than a year but currently 3 and a half days which is almost my limit. My job is not physical but you will find that mental work can now tire you out almost as much.
Please don’t think this is all doom & gloom but also please don’t just carry on as before because you look fine to others. You will need to make adjustments and have a different outlook. You will need to ease your foot off the accelerator somewhat. Remember what people can’t see are the facial scars that caused the brain injury (because you weren’t in a car crash) but maybe they would understand better if you had them?
Good luck on your recovery journey and expect a few bumps in the road but you will get there (just a bit slower than you expect).
Thank you for your kind words, this site has already been so useful
Thanks so much for your reply and advice, you are right I do need rest but for some one that was on the go 24/7 relaxing and resting is hard. but I am listening to my body, I will go for a short walk and come home shattered.
thanks so much for your reply it means loads to me.
Thanks for sharing your advice and story with me, I like the idea of a diary, rather then me looking back to what was before.
thanks so much you have given me loads to think of.
Thanks for taking time to read my post and your welcome to the site
Thanks for your reply and giving me loads to think about, you are right acceptance is the hardest thing for me.
I was told to take 2 weeks off and do nothing, this is killing me, the only time I have two weeks off is if I’m on holiday, I normally running around work doing medical calls or out training with the crew or being in charge of a 4-5 pump fire, this is so alien to me but like the straight talking sister on the stroke ward said you have burnt the candle at both ends now for to long and your body has finally said no, you have lost 9.5 years off your life and if you don’t change you will have another one. she was very straight talking and didn’t sugar coat it.
Thanks Andy it really helps
Thanks for your advice and honesty
Thanks for your reply to me, this site is great with the information on here and will be slowing down
Thanks so much for your advice and kind words, acceptance is my biggest problem at the moment but you are right fatigue does now set in fast even going for a walk or doing my homework from the stroke team tires me out, even though the stuff I’m doing is very Janet and John but you are right I need to look at small steps and small achievable goals and let work go.
thanks so much
That comes with the territory, all stroke survivors go through just the same. How you choose to accept this is down to you. Because when you think about it, you’ve been given no choice. So for now, start by looking no further than the year ahead of you, not to the distant future 'cos that’s too far fetched. Read as much of the posts on here because there’s an awful lot to be gleaned.
As I said earlier its 6mths fast healing…still feels like wading through molasses at times but ha-ho 'tis the only way to go. Make like an ostrich because you can’t predict the future, what you’ll be fit for in 6 days time let alone 6mths to a year, so don’t borrow trouble! Put it out of your mind and any time you find such thoughts of the future creeping back in, wipe them out. Go do something to take your mind off it. Don’t allow such thoughts to seep in an fester that will lead to anxiety and depression and that’s such a wasted of energy that can be put to better use in recovering what you lost. There’s plenty of time to reconsider your future down the road. Just convince yourself you’re taking a gap year before considering where your future lies.
Muscle atrophy is fairly common in stroke survivors and the brain is also a muscle. Hence the need for lots of rest as well as exercise. Of all the muscles in your body, the brain gets the greatest workout, more so than any bodybuilder or power lifter, because it works out 24/7 even in sleep mode. In my view the legs come joint second place with the spine because they carry around the weight of the rest of the body. And what do all body builders/firefighters need…plenty of protein and carbs for energy.
Causes And Prevention Of Muscle Atrophy After Stroke - Saebo.
This is where the risk lies, when you reach that 3-6mth plateau, that’s where some people are likely to stunt their progress. That’s the thing with strokes, you really have to be in it for the long haul to win it. Some people will only get so far before allowing life to take over with other things, more pleasurable things or whatever, than be determined to continue with rehabilitation.
From one green-eyed lady to another…Thank you so much for this article! I am envious of your ability to find just the right thing to share, and at the right time!
Shwmae @Bear, what kind of stroke did you have? Was it a bleed or ischaemic? Creoso to our forum, I hope we can guide you moving forward in your recovery journey. You have a bit of time now, if you can afford it, rest for six months at least. Allow the brain to heal, or face some issues down the line. A stroke is an attack on the brain, the rest of the world can wait, until your brain is ready to rejoin. It’s a tender and complicated organ, responsible for the rest of your body. I hope that you can find support here and that your rebuilding journey is eventful.