“Is there anyone on this forum who has suffered a similar stroke?”
I survived a similar stroke.
In May 2017, two weeks before my 45th birthday, I had an ischemic stroke caused by a cervical carotid artery dissection. No one knows for sure what produced the tear, but it’s suspected that neck strain while doing a free weights session at home might have exacerbated it. I’ve always been pretty fit and active, so, yeh, mine came as a shock too. The right side of my body was paralysed; my right foot had spasticity and was angled 45 degrees to the left like a club foot; my right leg was immobile and felt numb; my right arm was pinned to the bed; the right side of my face and head felt anaesthetised, and I couldn’t speak.
In a nutshell, I had to learn to walk and talk again – two things in life that I thought I’d have to learn just once. What a nuisance!
These days, I no longer have any spasticity – that, I’m chuffed to say, was fixed while in hospital. But when I walk I admittedly feel ever-so-slightly imbalanced. I also have neuropathic pain which is largely apparent in my right leg and foot than it is in the rest of my right side. It’s a numb prickly sensation, like chronic pins and needles, it feels like having an electric current running through my calf and foot. It’s got better over time. The sensation is still there but it’s not as bad as it used to be.
In terms of my hand and arm, the OTs masterfully managed to stimulate my hand and arm, while the physiotherapists focused on gaining strength and greater movement and flexibility. I was lucky in that I was placed on a programme using a SaeboFlex too. My right arm still feels heavier than my left arm but not nearly as much as it used to feel. It’s also not as flexible nor as agile as my left arm, in that its movement is jerky, abrupt and choppy. I also have limited hand functionality and increased sensitivity: my fingers do not move independently from one another and I have tendency to grab things in a rudimentary way using the most simple grip, so much so that I do not trust my right hand to hold breakable items such as plates or glasses, while anything that can dig into my hand hurts more than it did pre-stroke.
My aphasia (expressive) has improved immeasurably, mostly due to my reading aloud to my children and providing a running commentary on everything I did: “I’m going to make a co-ff-ee. I’m fill-ing the kett-le…” etc. I’d also watch people’s mouths as they talked and took note which lip shape produced particular sounds.
My thinking machine still works as evidenced by learning and passing the following exams since my stroke: AWS Architect, Professional Scrum Master, and since the pandemic started AWS Developer, AWS SysOps, Azure Fundamentals, Oracle Foundations.
There are times when I have doubts and think that I’ve plateaued and have reached the limit of recovery. But there are also signs that show the contrary. The improvements I’m making are small increments. While these small increments might be insignificant and imperceptible to other people, they absolutely are there. And they mean so much to me. They’re achievements, however small they seem to be, and I remain encouraged.
My real problem is now self-confidence and a sense of imposter syndrome, which is seemingly holding me back from applying for bunches of opportunities and sabotaging job applications, eventually hitting the point where I no longer consider putting myself forward for a role (succinctly put here), having been made redundant 15 months after I had had my stroke (admittedly, I decided to spend a year out after being made redundant to find out how much better I could get, but that time has expanded due to this ongoing pandemic and imposter syndrome).