Heidi Matthews was 47 when she had a stroke after work in April 2016. “I collapsed out of the blue,” she remembers. “It turned out I had a haemorrhage, and I was touch and go on life support. It was a frightening experience.” Aphasia was one of the major effects of the stroke, and she found it frustrating and upsetting that she was unable to communicate with her three daughters.
When she was discharged from hospital, Heidi found out about My Stroke Guide through a Stroke Association Support Coordinator. She instantly recognised how she and her family could benefit from the advice, information and online community. “Stroke is a shock, so it’s good to read up on the effects to check if what you’re experiencing is normal. You can also talk to other people and ask them questions, which is reassuring.”
Heidi’s daughter Grace also found comfort from using My Stroke Guide following her Mum’s stroke. “When my emotions aren’t normal, Grace can check if it’s OK for Mum to be acting that way,” says Heidi. “She helped me to access tools for aphasia that she learned about on My Stroke Guide. She also talked to a young stroke survivor, who helped her to understand what I was going through.”
Heidi now volunteers for the Stroke Association in Wales, and she recommends My Stroke Guide to all the stroke survivors and carers she works with. She continues to see improvements in her own communication skills, and next year, she’ll be heading to the Maldives with a friend she met through My Stroke Guide.
“Chatting to other stroke survivors on the forums has helped me to improve my reading, writing and confidence. I’m slowly improving my speech all the time. It’s good to tell people what you've experienced and tell others to keep on it.”