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My name is Jim Whyte and I’m 66.
Ten years ago I was at a new job,
driving a cool van,
and as I stepped down from the back of the wagon
when we got back to the depot,
my leg went to jelly and I nearly fell over.
They said, “What’s wrong?” I said, “I’ve had a stroke.”
They said, “How do you know that?” I said, “Don’t bleeding worry, I have.”
And they sat me down and then I knew I had
because they’d made me a cup of tea and put it on a sill not so far away
and every time I went I kept missing the cup of tea.
And they said, “What shall we do now?”
I said, “What do you think you should do?” in the nicest way.
“Take me to hospital.”
This was about half past three in the afternoon,
and that’s what they did.
At Chase Farm Hospital they had a hell of a job getting me out of the car,
but they got me on a trolley finally and got me into the hospital.
Being a diabetic, they put me right into the diabetic wing,
so by half past five I was in the ward.
First I had a scan, which they didn’t do the same day,
they waited another day or so to find out exactly where the problems were.
I had a bleed.
My speech was not affected
and the only movement I had was on my right side.
Each day I had treatment from the physiotherapist.
I also was a guinea pig for a young lady from another hospital
who came over for an hour every night after work
to treat me with a Bobath method
of posture for yourself,
and I had an hour of that every night as well, so I was very, very lucky.
I then had physio for the remainder of my time at Chase Farm,
which was 22 weeks.
One of the loveliest things…
She was actually a physio
and she asked me what time my wife got there of an afternoon,
and she said, “Wouldn’t it be nice
if you could walk over to your wife this afternoon?”
And what she gave me was a big crook, like a shepherd’s crook,
not to lean on but just to hold to balance.
And when my wife came in I walked about ten paces across to meet her,
which was absolutely marvellous.
Afterwards I was moved to Northwick Park,
which is a specialist unit for stroke survivors.
I was there for five weeks,
and the difference there with all the specialist nurses, doctors, physios,
occupational therapists and clinical psychiatrists,
The physio would see you once every day
and then you could go down to the gym yourself in your wheelchair
as often as you like to do your exercises.
And by continuing to do the exercises you get stronger.
Some people unfortunately didn’t have
the strength and the courage to keep going.
They were the ones that failed along the way.
But by keeping going and a positive attitude,
I could possibly nearly walk as well as anybody down there.
Every stroke’s a major stroke,
it’s just that people are affected in a different way.
One part of the brain goes a little bit more than another, maybe,
but it’s how quick you get it back,
and by having a positive attitude you get those things back a bit quicker.
Well, the stroke club’s brilliant
because it’s people that are alike going along, talking, conversing,
and by talking to people of the same position you’re in,
you get to know a lot more about stroke.
And also the carers come along
so they can learn from other carers how to look after you,
and that’s a fantastic thing to do.
What I tend to say to people is, “Yes, you’ve had a stroke
but you’ve got to adjust, you’ve got to trim down what you have,
you’ve got to adjust to what you have and get on with life.”
“Yes, you’ll hobble a bit,
you won’t be able to pick up things like you used to,
but by adjusting…”
There’s occupational therapists who will help you
as far as you can get gimmicks and bits and bobs
to help you pick up things, do things with.
The physio will tell you the exercises to do
and the more you do them the stronger you will get.
And now I feel… I’m not back to normal, I never will be normal,
but I’ve adjusted to what I have and I thought…