Read more stories from the Browning family.

1.  Please share a little about how you felt when you first realise your loved one had had a stroke?

Being of an older generation I had no experience of a young stroke victim. My immediate reaction to the news was one of shock and my interpretation of a stroke was based on knowledge of older people being paralysed, mentally or physically impaired, losing their speech and mobility and long periods of physiotherapy and hospitalisation or even death.

My own mother had a massive stroke and I spent her last 3 days and nights with her until she died a dreadful death unable to swallow. This was my only previous experience of a stroke in the family and was one which has left dreadful memories.

As a result I immediately needed to know how my granddaughter was affected and how badly and ultimately the prognosis for her recovery.

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

My fear was for long term incapacity and recovery. The questions I asked were few as I didn’t want to imply fear of such things and worry my daughter so I waited to be told what she felt she could tell me.

Being on the other side of the world I could not visit or support or see for myself so waiting for news and facts was unbearable.

3. What information and resources did you received that helped you understand more about Stroke?

I did not trawl the internet as I thought it would not be specific to our granddaughter and would only worry me more.

4. What challenges did your loved one face during their stroke recovery?

I believe my granddaughter’s main challenge initially was her understanding what had happened, treatment and care (which did not seem to be specific being young person). Beyond that testing to identify the cause, then heart surgery, more tests & blood tests, ongoing fatigue and tiredness. Obviously she would have been frightened of all the things we had worried about.

She was doing her nursing degree, so her studies were interrupted and I think she worried greatly about the likely long term effects of the stroke, but being so far away I was unable and ill equipped to discuss any of this with her.

5. Did you reach out for support and talk to others about your loved one having a stroke and was it helpful?

If I told friends about my granddaughter they were equally shocked and unaware of young stroke victims with little knowledge of young stroke. Talking to others and seeing their reactions was so negative, that i stopped talking to people about it because it added to my worry and stress. I talked to my daughter and son in law with me in the UK who were my only support and source of information.

6. What advice would you give someone else about helping and supporting their loved ones in their stroke recovery?

I do not feel I could give advice to anyone supporting a stroke victim and would expect health professionals and people working in this field or victims themselves would be better equipped to give advice and support to others.

7. Were you aware of the signs of stroke before your loved one had their stroke?

I only know about the facial effects as a warning of stroke from advertisements on English TV.

8. How did the stroke affect other family members?

I was not with my family during this time so was never told how they were affected. I had been in hospital myself so feel we were all putting on a brave face for each other.

For myself I was extremely anxious, continually waiting for news, sleeping badly, and wishing I could be there to see how things really were. At the same time trying not to add to my daughter’s and sons-in-law pressure of being at the hospital and supporting my other grandchildren.

9. What information resources and or support do you think could have helped at this time ?

Maybe a leaflet to refer to with indicators of a stroke, what to do in an emergency (although for me its press my buzzer and/or call 999)

Afterwards, probably information on the possible after effects and support groups appropriate to whatever care would be necessary.

Obviously, the younger generation may want online direction but with my tremors keyboard use (and I imagine for some stroke victims who are incapacitated) this is more problematic.

10. 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?

For Beth it has been her determination to complete her nursing studies and achieving her degree and not to stop there. She has gone on to acquire a nursing position, to be accepted to study her masters in paediatric nursing and to move to independent living. Amazing determination not to give in to her battles with tiredness and fatigue. I am so proud of her.

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