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1. How did you feel when you first found out your friend had suffered a stroke?

When I was told, I felt concerned for my good friend. I was confused as to how a young, healthy person just like me could experience something like this. I was mainly worried for my friend and hoped she would be okay.

2. What questions, worries or concerns did you have at that time?

I wondered, will she be ok? Will there be long term effects from this? Will she be able to do all the things she loves?

3. What information and resources did you receive that helped you understand a little more about stroke?

I did already have some background knowledge of stroke from studying at uni. Besides from that, I learnt from what my friend experienced and through the organisations that she and her family were involved in such as the Stroke Foundation.

4. What challenges did your friend face?

When my friend had her stroke, she was living a fast paced, young adult lifestyle. Attending university, working, busy social life. She then had to step back from doing all of these things and really take the time to get her health back. It may have been a challenge to let some of those things go and learn to say no.

5. What advice would you give someone else about helping and supporting their friend in stroke recovery?

I think that just making sure that they know you are there for them whether it’s for a chat or just to sit with and be present. If you can’t physically be there, keep checking in. I think it’s important to be careful of language and avoid saying things like “just be positive” for example. Let them feel the way they are feeling and just be there to listen and support.

6. Where you aware of the signs of stroke before?

Whilst I had been told before what the signs of stroke are, I didn’t really see the need to retain this information as it seemed so unlikely to occur. Since my friend had her stroke I have learnt the signs as I now know we are not invincible and these things happen so we need to be proactive. Especially seeing as acting fast in a situation like a stroke can potentially be life-saving.

7. How did the stroke affect other family members?

Whilst I know that this time would have been extremely stressful and emotional for my friend’s family, I know that they have been using their experience to make a difference and so other people are aware that these things can happen. Not only that, the work they are doing may just make another young person who has gone through a similar thing feel less alone, and that there are people who understand what they are going through.

8.What is the biggest win and positive outcome you have seen your loved one achieve since they had their stroke, that you would share with others who have had a stroke to give inspire them  and give them hope for the future?

Since my good friend had her stroke, she has finished her university degree and is soon starting work as a nurse. She has moved out of home and become a capable, resilient and independent person. Whilst my friend has always been a kind and nurturing girl, I know that this experience will help her be even more empathetic to the patients she cares for, and be able to relate to them on a personal level.

Despite the challenges she faced in her recovery and potentially still faces today, she has been able to come through it all and still do everything she loves. I think this shows that no matter what might happen in your life, if you have positive support network around you and can motivate yourself as best you can to get through the hard parts, you can achieve whatever you set out to do.

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