Stroke Recovery Association of BC

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Archive for March, 2016

NEW SRABC Fund Raising Event – Art After Stroke 2016

We are planning a Special Event to take place July 2016 entitled Art After Stroke which will feature incredible work by stroke survivors in visual and performing arts. The event will be used to generate publicity and raise awareness. We are aiming to make a big media splash and put stroke recovery on the BC map!
The purpose of Art After Stroke is to show everyone that people who have had a stroke are capable of producing fantastic works of art that can take your breath away. This will help us to communicate a message of hope to people all over BC. After all, if you don’t know a stroke survivor yourself, then you do know someone who loves one.
Tickets … are for sale now online here:

http://www.ticketzone.com/event/Art-after-Stroke/305871

Art After Stroke
• Location: Roundhouse Community Arts Centre
• Date: Friday July 8th 2016
• Time: 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm
• Theme: Art after Stroke

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My Battle Against My Stroke – Krishna Pindolia’s Blog

UK resident Krishna Pindolia writes an insightful and interesting blog which the folks at SRABC like to follow. My Stroke-athon Journey: 10 YEARS ON – a blog by Krishna Pindolia can be found here:  https://strokeathon10yearson.wordpress.com/

Here’s a sample of her writing:My Battle Against My Stroke - Krishna Pindolia’s Blog

Ten years ago, at the age of 18, on 2nd June 2005 I was diagnosed as suffering from a stroke. I was just about to take my A-level exams. It was the most important academic exam period of my life. In fact, I had already taken a Psychology exam. I was ready to take the rest of them and eventually go to university to study Pharmacy hopefully in Nottingham. The events leading up to me being admitted to hospital and having a stroke have changed my life forever. Until I had my stroke, I thought only old people and diabetic people were likely to be affected by strokes.  I didn’t know that anyone at any age, even babies could suffer from a stroke. I know that I would now be living a completely different life to which I am now.

I use to be quiet, shy, always focused on doing well in school. I wouldn’t say I was clever and neither would I say I struggled in school. I worked hard to achieve good grades. I got 7A’s and 6B’s at GCSE’s including English and Maths. I always wanted to study pharmacy in university as I enjoyed studying Biology and Chemistry and I was quite good at maths. I wasn’t popular, I had a few friends that I was close to and that was enough for me.

After having a stroke, things changed drastically. I didn’t know where I was, who my family were, my name, I couldn’t read or write and couldn’t speak much apart from saying the word “No”. I stayed three months in hospital and rehabilitation at the National Neurology and Neurosurgery (Queens Square) receiving the best care of speech therapy, occupational therapy, physiotherapy and neuropsychology treatment to recover from the stroke. I then went home in August received community rehabilitation and I eventually went to a Vocational Rehab in London Bridge in January 2006 to help me go back onto my feet, go back to College and pursue my unfinished career. Not giving up, I went back to college to re-learn the A-levels. I eventually went to study Pharmacy at London School of Pharmacy for a year. I passed my coursework but failed my exams as they were all in one week and at that time I was visiting the hospital at least 3 times a week. It was too early to go university full-time but if I didn’t try I would never have known. At this point, I wasn’t going to give up that easy. I still remembered the day the doctors told me I would never be able to do anything but watch TV. It made me angry and made me even more determined to succeed. I told all my doctors that I would get a degree and prove it to them. I then decided to go to Westminster University to study Biomedical Science part-time and I achieved my degree 6 years later.

It’s been a really long journey but I feel like now is the time to share my story for several reasons.

Firstly, many members of my family and friends know about my stroke but not many know about the extent of my recovery and my whole journey in great detail because I found it difficult to talk about it back then. Only a selective few, know how hard I have had to work to be where I am today.

Secondly, I only had one mission back then … to complete my degree. Being told by your doctor that you won’t be able to do anything but watch TV at home was devastating. I had to prove them wrong because deep inside I believed I could do anything despite all the difficulties I was having after the stroke. I have been trying to achieve goals after goals till today. Most people probably thought I was crazy but I didn’t want to regret it later on in my life that I didn’t try when I could have. Now that I have achieved those goals, I have new ones and I am volunteering to get stronger so I can work one day as post-stroke fatigue and other problems are still affecting me.

Thirdly, despite all my gruelling efforts in overcoming my condition, my stroke seems to affect me today. Most people say that if I never told them I had a stroke they wouldn’t realise it. It’s all the strategies I have in place that hide away all my difficulties. On my bad days, I do find it difficult to explain things and struggle to process information quickly. Although, I have got much better over the years I still find it difficult to write fluently so I thought I would write blogs to improve my writing, show awareness about stroke and the preventative actions that can be taken by others.

Thanks to Daisy Hythe-Clayton, PR Officer (South) at the UK’s leading stroke charity, Stroke Association, for helping us to connect with Krishna and get her permission to reproduce her blog here. You can find out more about Stroke Association here: www.stroke.org.uk

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A Caregiver’s Perspective on Life Changes Post-Stroke

Becoming a caregiver at age 28 forced Brian Baez to re-evaluate his priorities and make changes to his life. He says he’s grateful for the lessons he’s learned along the way.

A Loss for WordsA Caregiver’s Perspective on Life Changes Post-Stroke

Baez sensed something was wrong with his husband, Jason Campbell, when he missed two of his lines as the two performed in a matinee theatre production in March 2014. Unsure what was happening, the cast covered for Campbell until he slumped over in a chair. Baez carried him off stage and called 9-1-1.

The ischemic stroke did little physical damage but left Campbell—a 34-year-old actor, director, and teacher at the time—struggling for words. While he is able to speak in short sentences and sign language, Baez says they mostly communicate through “20 Questions.”

No Time to Reflect

Although Baez had some experience with stroke survivors through his full-time job as an educational marketer at a skilled nursing facility, he wasn’t entirely prepared for what it meant to care for Campbell on a daily basis. He learned quickly how important a support system, like the one they had in the local theater community, was.

Even with their friends’ help, though, Baez didn’t have much time to process what had happened initially. He says, to an extent, he is still working through the emotions and coming to terms with the fact that he might never have a full conversation with his husband again.

Whittling the Extra Away

In some ways, though, the stroke has been a blessing. Baez says it forced him to reevaluate his life, “whittle away the extra” and unimportant things, and focus on what really matters.

While others his age are chasing dream jobs and dream homes, he realizes that his life can have meaning without those things.

“In some weird, twisted way, I’m grateful to have learned these lessons at my age,” Baez says.

Helping Other Caregivers

As executive coordinator and caregiver liaison now at The Aphasia Center, Baez shares these tips with other caregivers:

  1. Don’t neglect your own health. Take care of yourself.
  2. Find a support system. Even just one or two people can make a difference.
  3. Take advantage of others’ offer to help. A friend taught Campbell to sign.
  4. Look for online caregiver forums for additional support.
  5. Accept that you will both get frustrated, especially when dealing with aphasia. Step back, take a moment, and then reconnect.

Original article by Teresa Bitler  – first published here:  http://www.strokesmart.org/brian-baez 

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So You’re Going to Rehab: Stroke Rehab, That Is

This short book provides practical advice for the stroke survivor  considering inpatient rehabilitation, with a touch of humour. “So You’re Going to Rehab” addresses topics such as whether inpatient stroke therapy is the best decision, packing for rehab, and the importance of learning and practicing self-care and self-advocacy skills. In the following interview Canadian author Sarah Levis (aka GirlWithTheCane) talks about her book and her experiences as a stroke survivor.

So You’re Going to Rehab Stroke Rehab, That IsTell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?

“I spent the bulk of my childhood and teen years in a very small Ontario town. I left to go to Queen’s University, and I spent some time on the West Coast. However, a small stroke during a job interview alerted me to the fact that I had a congenital vascular disorder in my brain called an arteriovenous malformation (AVM) that was going to require treatment. It was possible to get the AVM treated in Vancouver, but I wanted to be close to family, so I flew back to my childhood town in Ontario and lived with my father until my surgery date in Toronto.

After open brain surgery to treat the AVM, I had a second, much more severe stroke, and spent six months in stroke rehabilitation. Once I left rehab, I again had to live with my father as I continued my recovery, But today, fifteen years after my stroke, I live on my own in an apartment with my two cats, and do just about everything for myself. I’ve been very lucky to recover to the extent that I have.

I’ve worked part-time in the community off and on since 2005, but I also run my own freelance writing company. I started that project in 2011, when I started getting offers for freelance work from work from my disability advocacy blog at http://girlwiththecane.com. My blog started out as a place for me get down some thoughts about disability issues, but it’s made me an internationally known disability advocate and highly respected disability blogger.”

At what age did you realize your fascination with books? When did you start writing?

“I’ve loved to read from the moment that I started to learn in school. I remember being very excited about finally being able to read one of my favourite story books, and running to show my mother. I was a voracious reader as a child, reading even when the class got a five minute break between lessons at school. When my teachers started to give silent reading time each day to the class, I was in heaven.

I started writing my own stories when I was eight years old. I wrote them in a notebook, which I carried around with me even after my parents got me a typewriter and eventually a computer. I wrote stories about all sorts of things, heavily influenced by whatever I was reading at the time. I used to send copies of my stories to famous authors, hoping that they’d read them and want to publish them. I remember that Judy Blume even sent me a letter encouraging me to keep writing when I sent a story to her.

I wrote fiction for fun all through high school and university, but after my second stroke I started writing personal essays to help me make sense of what had happened to me. I published a small book of these (now out of print). Now most of my writing is blogging and opinion pieces, with an indulgent month-long marathon of fiction writing when I do NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) each November.”

Who are your favorite authors to read? What is your favorite genre to read? Who inspires you in your writings?

“I enjoy suspense and thrillers, sometimes with a paranormal component depending on the author and my mood. Stephen King’s books and his philosophy on writing have been a big influence. I also enjoy Geneen Roth’s writing, and I’ve read practically everything that Lucy Maud Montgomery has written.

My friend Jeff, also a stroke survivor, inspired me to write one of my most popular personal essays. I dedicated my first book to him.”

Tell us a little about your latest book?

“’So You’re Going to Rehab: Stroke Rehab, That Is’ is the first in a series of guides for stroke survivors and their families about living life post-stroke, based on the knowledge that I’ve acquired from 15 years of being in recovery. A guide to inpatient stroke rehabilitation, it addresses both practical issues like what to pack and (for women) putting on a bra one-handed and philosophical ones like dealing with bad days and the importance of making friends while in rehabilitation. I’m very excited about this project, and hope that I can help many people! ‘So You’re Going Into Rehab: Stroke Rehab, That Is’ is quite short and took me just over a week to write. I’m working on the second guide now, and it’s taking longer. I should be releasing it before September, though.”

Original article by Vinny O’Hare – first published here:

http://bookreadermagazine.com/featured-author-sarah-levis/

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Art After Stroke 2016- Michelle Britton – Featured Artist

Michelle Britton had a brain stem stroke about 14 years ago. It was May 1999 in Victoria, BC, Canada. She has her business degree and almost had her private pilot license. Michelle spent six years in Victoria after her stroke, before she moved to the BC Interior. Some of her family lives in Vernon and are able to help more there. Since she moved, she began painting landscapes. With help from a good friend and by putting her arm in a sling, she paints using acrylics. From these paintings, she sells cards, prints, calenArt After Stroke 2016- Michelle Britton – featured artistdars and magnets. This gives her a little extra to supplement her monthly disability cheque that is less than a thousand dollars. Michelle is quadriplegic, has a weak neck and can’t speak. She clicks Morse code into a computer that speaks for her. She also has to eat blended food. Michelle now lives in her own place and has an art room to create and paint when she wants.

To see more of Michelle’s work visit her website: http://www.michellebritton.ca/

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