When Lea’s husband, Simon, had a stroke in April 2020, their lives changed overnight. Simon’s right side was affected by the stroke, and at first, he struggled with walking and using his arm. During the three and a half weeks he was in hospital, Simon regained some mobility, but still needed a lot of support.
Lea, from Edinburgh, found herself feeling anxious about Simon coming home. ”I was terrified,” she recalls. ”I worried about everything. What if he fell? What if he had another stroke? How would I cope with the responsibility?
“Simon had very limited movement in his shoulder, arm, wrist, hand and fingers. I had to help him dress and watch him as he came down the stairs backwards as he couldn’t hold onto the banister with his right side. I helped him with medication and cut up his food, which I still do. He was in a lot of pain due to his shoulder, so I helped with his exercises.”
Being so focused on Simon started to take its toll on Lea’s health and wellbeing. She felt overwhelmed but didn’t know where to turn.
“What I needed was someone to talk to, who understood what I was going through,” says Lea. “Simon heard about the Stroke Association’s Scotland online carers cafe and encouraged me to join.”
Our stroke cafes are online support groups, who meet on Zoom every week. ”The support I’ve received has been invaluable,” says Lea. ”I can talk about my experience as a carer freely and without judgement. I feel less alone listening to other peoples’ stories. We give each other useful tips on looking after ourselves and managing the challenges of being a carer.
“The cafe helped me to accept the situation I was in and develop a pragmatic view of how to deal with the impact of stroke, both on me and my husband. I now feel less anxious and saddened by the situation. It is what it is, and when I need help, it’s great to have the cafe there.”
Inspired by her experiences and wanting to be there for others, Lea is now a cafe volunteer too.
“I’d encourage anyone looking for support to join. Sharing stories can be a tremendous support for yourself and others – it can help get you through some of those difficult days. Apart from anything else, it’s good to meet new people, and have a blether over a cup of tea!”
We run online cafes for carers, stroke survivors and young stroke survivors in Scotland. If you’re interested in joining, email us at EngagementTeamScotland@stroke.org.uk.
We also host online and in-person cafes for carers and stroke survivors around the UK. Search for support groups near you.
Stroke News magazine
This article is featured in the summer 2023 edition of our magazine, Stroke News. Subscribe to our future editions available in print, on audio CD, or via email.