4) Stuart

Q. How have others reacted to your stroke?

I’ve been really lucky, Wilma my partner has been amazing. She’s totally been there for me since day one. I wasn’t long retired and she was just getting used to having me under her feet all day- we had such plans for our retirement. When I got home I was such hard work, Wilma had to help me get in and out the bath and even help me get to the toilet during the night. It’s hard when your wife turns into your carer.

You really find out who your true friends are. I was surprised that some friends drifted away they just didn’t seem to know how to deal with me. I could be bitter about it but hey life’s too short. Bill from works been great, we meet up every week and give Wilma and me a break from each other.

Q. How has your stroke affected your relationships?

If anything Wilma and I are stronger. We still have a laugh together and when things get hard we try to work it out together rather than blame each other. We still need our space, but that’s pretty normal isn’t it? We had thought about moving abroad when I retired but now we’re stuck in sunny Scotland. But you know it’s made us think about what’s important like being close to our children and grandchildren- now life’s slowed down we see much more of them. At first we didn’t want to have carers in but we now have someone in the morning and that wee bit of help has made such a difference to us. Wilma’s less tired out but almost more importantly it means she’s still my partner most of the time, not my carer. To begin with I thought she didn’t fancy me anymore but when we eventually discussed it she said it felt strange with her caring for me and everything. She wasn’t sure if I would be interested any more, I soon put her right.

Q. Can people see the effect of your stroke?

So as you can see I’ve been left with weakness down my left side and I have to use this thing (points to wheelchair). I suppose people don’t see the other side of it, like coming to terms with how it’s changed my whole life. It’s not all been bad, but it’s been quite a journey so far.

Q. What is your take home advice?

Don’t try and change what you can’t change, like going abroad. Some relationships have got stronger but some friends have drifted away. It certainly worked for us being able to talk about it. You worry about what you might hear from those close to you, but most of the time things are never as bad as you think they will be. It helped not over-thinking things and talking about my worries instead of lying awake at night thinking about them.

Key points

It’s important to:

  • not try and change what you can’t change
  • not over-think things
  • talk about your concerns
  • realise that some relationships may get stronger while some friends may drift away