Stroke comes out of nowhere, with devastating consequences. With your help, we want to make sure all stroke survivors and their families get the support they desperately need.
With over a million people living with the effects of stroke in the UK, there’s a long way to go. But together, we can make a difference. Thank you for your support.
Tristan’s story: “Treat mundane activities as exercises in themselves.”
“After my stroke, I was 40 percent paralysed right down my right-hand side,” says Tristan. “My shoulder, arm, my back and my leg had gone, no sensation at all. It got my bladder, bowels and prostate. I had the most incredible pain.”
Tristan set himself short-term goals such as going and get the paper from the local corner shop. He used everyday activities as exercises to help with his recovery. “Things like loading and unloading the dishwasher, doing the washing up, making a cup of tea, fetching and carrying, gardening.”
Tristan was initially advised not to go swimming, but later on he found this a great form of exercise. "I've got this burning pain all the time, it's terrible. But the minute I go in the water, all the pain just washed away - it was lovely. I couldn't move my right arm or leg, but I was able to swim with one arm. Very quickly, I was able to do a reasonable version of breaststroke. I still struggle to do the crawl but I can do backstroke and I can do breaststroke."
With his daughter Nichola’s wedding just six months away, Tristan was determined to walk her down the aisle.
After six weeks of intensive physiotherapy at home, Tristan joined our Moving Forwards programme, which helps stroke survivors improve their mobility and fitness. Elaine, the instructor, helped Tristan practise walking in a straight line for the wedding.
“When I started, the only way I could walk was by swinging my right leg out in a semi-circle and stamping it in front,” says Tristan. “Then after the lessons, I'd be doing it at home as much as I could. Our cat likes to be taken for a walk and she used to come with me to get the newspaper and back. I walked along a join in the tarmac. The neighbours thought I was mad!”
Tristan achieved his goals and walked Nichola down the aisle.
“On the day itself, I was initially terrified with a room full of people looking at me,” Tristan says. “I didn’t want to trip. But our hard work paid off. It was incredible and what a huge relief!”
Bryony’s Story – From volunteer to survivor
Bryony first started volunteering with the Stroke Association in 2016. As a student in Sports Science and Injury Rehabilitation, Bryony was keen to use her skills as a massage therapist, and volunteering at our running events was the perfect opportunity.
“We had so much fun! Dressing up, cheering everyone on, massaging and listening to people’s stories,” Bryony says.
She never imagined that one day she’d need help from the Stroke Association herself.
On Christmas Eve 2017, everything changed.
“I couldn’t talk, I started having seizures and was in and out of consciousness. My housemate rang the paramedics as we realised what was happening – I was having a stroke at 24. My right side was paralysed and I had to learn to walk and talk again.”
Bryony returned to her parents’ house in Kent to recover. “I got in contact with the Stroke Association in Medway. The stroke team got me out to socialise with people of the same age and people who could empathise with me.
From there, I set myself the goal of massaging at the marathon again. And in October 2018, I did it. It was exhausting, but I did it. No one believed that I’d had a stroke. I put that down to my sheer determination and stubbornness!”
Inspired by her achievements, Bryony’s fiancé and friends recently ran the Leeds Half Marathon on her behalf and raised £4,000 for the Stroke Association.
“I don’t run, so I drummed up fundraising instead,” says Bryony. “I know how important the money is for the charity and how it supports others. It’s helped me get a Life After Stroke Grant for taxi and train vouchers, which helps me when I’m exhausted.”