Jo was enjoying life in Singapore with her husband John when, age 36, she had a stroke. She had no prior warning.
‘I had just finished a cooking class when I felt a pop in my head and 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 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. When medics did a scan they found Jo had suffered a massive bleed. Jo’s low blood pressure had saved her life.
‘I was in pieces but my husband was wonderful and kept me going. They kept me in hospital for three months and when it was time for discharge we decided that John should give up his job and we returned home to the UK.’
‘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 Jo 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. My husband was wonderful but my friends couldn’t understand and they began staying away. To them I looked completely normal – they didn’t know what was going on in my brain.’
‘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’.
‘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’m 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.’