I have spent my whole life helping others. As a secondary teacher of Art, I took great delight in helping young folk to find their own creativity and to develop their skills, thus building their confidence and allowing them to achieve success. So, it was pretty easy for me to still be able to help others even though I was coping with facing my own demons after suffering both a stroke and a brain tumour.
I did not call on help from associations (such as the national Stroke Foundation or Brain Tumour Alliance Australia) even though I probably should have. I did take advantage of the home help that was offered and was assessed (with my husband) as being eligible for the Carers Respite. I was more concerned with being able to help others by sharing my story through both my book and speaking to groups (such as Libraries, Rotary Clubs and Hospital staff).
My aim was to inspire and motivate others who may be suffering or the carers of someone suffering. I also wanted to simply make folk (whether they be medical staff or potential patients) more aware of what to do to reduce the risk factors of getting strokes and to better understand what the patient goes through and how they handle it.
Therefore, when I was invited to be an Ambassador for the Stroke Foundation, I was only too happy to do so. It seemed to me that what they wanted me to do was not all that different to what I was already doing.
My husband, Peter, also nominated me for a creative award (run by the Stroke Foundation) for those recovering from a stroke through the wonder of creativity. With me having written the book ‘Thank God I Had a Stroke’ and with my silk painting, Peter felt that the award was made for me! He was pretty right as I ended up winning this award.
I just want folk to know that there is life after a stroke. You can still be productive and useful; you just have to concentrate on what you can still do and not fret about what you can no longer do. Of course, there are many degrees of disabilities after a stroke and this can be a deciding factor in what you will be able to achieve. But, believe me, you will still be able to achieve!
Hints and Tips
You must remain positive after suffering a major illness and believe that you can do more than you think you can. Set yourself huge challenges; me writing a book when I could no longer read, was my huge challenge. It will take time and you will need a pretty special caregiver to support you; but stick to it and you will be amazed. The more good things that you achieve, the easier it will become and it will seem as though more and more positive outcomes will be heading your way.