'I just wish all stroke survivors were able to get the appropriate physical and emotional support they need to rebuild their lives.'
Willie is 47 and lives in Portadown. Willie was a busy music teacher, performing musician and family man when he had a stroke late one night in October 2017. He spent two months in hospital receiving physiotherapy and occupational therapy and has paid for additional private therapy to help with his recovery. But everything changed for Willie during the pandemic.
'When we went into Covid-19 lockdown in March, for me, everything just stopped. At that time, I'd been busy swimming and paying for private training sessions with a personal trainer at my local gym. I was receiving physiotherapy and private neuro-physiotherapy and overnight, that all had to stop.
'Since my stroke, physiotherapy and working hard on my fitness has been essential to my recovery and to regain the use of the left side of my body, particularly my arm and hand. I really struggled at the start of lockdown when I was prevented from doing all these activities that had become a huge part of my life. I kept myself moving at home and doing any floor exercises that I could. But I haven't been going out for walks like I used to. I'm not sure why, as walking was fantastic for me in the beginning, but it might be due to all the talk of social distancing and keeping your distance from others.'
Despite the challenges of the past few months, Willie remains positive about his recovery from stroke.
'Since my stroke, I've been determined that I will get better. I just need time and access to the experts who can work with me to make it happen. I'm very proud of the achievements I've made.
'I just wish all stroke survivors were able to get the appropriate physical and emotional support they need to rebuild their lives no matter where they live or what their circumstances are'.