Barry's Story “The support group has become a lifeline” When Barry suffered a transient ischaemic attack (also known as a TIA or mini stroke), his speech, reading and movement were affected. Despite not being able to move his right hand properly, he was determined to get better and keep up his favourite hobby – painting. Something was wrong On May 1 2020, I woke up and realised something was wrong. The next thing I knew, I was on the floor by my bed and my wife Lynne was calling an ambulance. I had suffered a transient ischaemic attack (TIA) and spent the next two weeks in Inverclyde Royal Infirmary in Greenock. My speech and reading were affected. More worryingly, as a keen painter, I couldn’t move his right hand properly. I’m lucky as my stroke was minor compared to some people. It happened quickly. I’m still able to go out for a walk. I can drive. There are people who can’t get out of the house. Starting to recover The first thing I did in hospital was ask for paper so I could try and draw with my left hand. Fortunately, I was able to start painting again as soon as he got home. I used my left hand to draw and I managed it very quickly. My right hand needed some exercises, but I didn’t get a lot of physio while I was in hospital. The biggest concern was my speech. There seemed to be a block between my brain and my mouth. I had to get used to words again, and to be honest, I’m still getting used to some words. One of the nurses handed me a booklet that explained what my problem was. But the first problem was that I couldn’t read it! I’m slowly starting to get my reading comprehension back. Lynne makes me read aloud to her so she can see and hear what I’m reading. I’ve found that very helpful. Support group a lifeline A lifeline appeared for me when I began weekly sessions with Allison, the Community Support Co-ordinator for Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland in my local area. Along with NHS speech therapy assistant Eirinn, Allison suggested I join a new online support group for stroke patients they planned to launch. The online support group started in December and we met every Tuesday using the Microsoft Teams app. I instantly struck up a friendship with a fellow stroke survivor in the group. Me and one of the guys enjoyed the sessions so much that we’ve been meeting outside of the group for a couple of hours a week. It’s good to talk to someone who is having the same problems and the same issues. We don’t just talk about having had a stroke. We’re chatting about everything and anything. It’s been a real boost for me because none of us can get out or do the things we normally would because of covid-19. Allison and Eirinn gave me advice and reading and writing exercises to do. It was exactly what I needed. They proposed the online group. It took a while to get off the ground, and some of the guys have had a few technology problems. But we persevered because it’s worth it. The support group has become a lifeline, something I look forward to. Online support is essential. People I’ve spoken to are not getting support, and that’s sad.