Headway Hertfordshire - supporting people affected by brain injury

Jo Bould's Story

After her stroke, Jo's friends couldn't understand what was wrong.

'The saddest thing,' 38-year-old Jo said, 'is that friends
began to drift off because they couldn't understand what had
happened to me. Outwardly I looked normal, but had
suffered a devastating stroke and brain injury that meant I
was struggling to get through the day in one piece. '

Jo was enjoying life in Singapore with her husband John
when, in 2012, at 36, she had a stroke. She had no prior

'I had just finished a cooking class when I felt a pop in my
head and I came over very woozy, as if I was drunk. My
friend somehow got me back to the flat and I just lay down. I
thought it was a migraine, and I just rested for five days
feeling dizzy all the time.'

On the fifth day she told her husband that she felt she should
go to hospital. At first the medics thought it was meningitis
because the symptoms are similar, but when they did a scan
they found Jo had suffered a massive bleed. The doctors
told Jo’s low blood pressure had saved her life.

Jo was in hospital for two weeks while the doctors wrestled
with what treatment to give. Eventually they decided not to
operate but to treat her with new drugs which had come out.

'I was in pieces but my husband was wonderful and kept me
going. They gave me the drugs for three months then it was
time for discharge and we decided that John should give up
his job and we would return home to the UK.'

The couple were unsure where to turn to for help and then
they found a leaflet about Headway in their GP's surgery.
They made contact and discovered the help available.

'I realised I had a lot wrong with me,' Jo said, ' I had
difficulties with remembering things, I couldn't always say
what I wanted to say, and I was tired all the time and getting
headaches. I wanted to learn all about what had happened
to my brain because I knew the only way to get better was to
educate myself.'

With Headway's help she found the answers to the myriad of
questions she had in her mind. She learned about the
different types of stroke and how hers had affected her.

'Headway's HABIT rehab group was great and I made real
progress. My husband was wonderful but my friends, well
they couldn't understand and they began staying away. To
them I looked completely normal but they didn't know what
was going on in my brain.'

After a year things became a little better and Jo and John
were getting back on their feet.

'Getting in touch with Headway was one of the best things I
have ever done,' Jo exclaimed. 'Just being with people who
could understand, and not judge you, was very important. I
found people who said yes, I did have something wrong with
me and yes they could help me.

'John saw a change in me and I always passed on to him
what I learned about the brain. We came to realise what had
happened and why, and this gave me so much more
confidence. I now feel I am in control of what has happened
to me.

'Having said that I still suffer terrible fatigue and have trouble
working out what to do when, for instance, I am cooking. If I
am following a recipe I get all jumbled and miss things out. I
still get confused with money, things like that.

'However I am optimistic. I would love to get a job with a
company that would let me start off slowly and build up my
hours. I am doing one morning a week voluntary work now in
an arts charity. I'm not fussy what I do now, my outlook has
changed. I'd just like to be part of a team and do something
I'm proud of.'