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I’ve always been physically fit and strong. I served as a Royal Marine Commando, and I put my life on the line to help others. I have faced challenging situations before as part of my job, but I’ve never felt more scared and alone than last year when I had a stroke.
I have always found it very difficult to ask for help, but now I’m doing just that. Your donations mean the absolute world to me because they fund the work of the people who rescued me and my family from the darkest time in our lives.
Please donate now and help me and others like me recover from stroke.
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Last year, I was on a bike ride – one which I did two or three times a week from my home in East Lothian. But this bike ride was different.
I started to feel funny, and realised I couldn’t recognise or control my right hand. I didn’t know what was happening to me and I couldn’t do anything about it.
That was when I saw a paramedic on a motorbike approaching. I knew I needed help and I tried to get their attention.
But I couldn’t lift my hand or call out. I had to watch the paramedic pass by, leaving me on the side of the road, scared, alone and in desperate need of help.
After many attempts, I managed to make a call to my wife Pippa. I couldn’t speak, but she knew something was very wrong. Luckily, I wear a trackable watch, so she immediately came to find me.
As she pulled up beside me, she took one look at me and said: “You’ve had a stroke.”
“The fight really starts as you try to come to terms with what has happened when you are at home on your own.”
I was only 52 years old. You never imagine a stroke can happen to you or your loved one. We were in shock.
For the next four weeks, I had extensive rehabilitation and speech therapy in hospital. I was the youngest person on the ward, and fought hard to recover, doing everything I could to get back on my feet.
Around six months after the stroke, I started to feel very fatigued after therapy. At the same time I was going through all of this, my father-in-law was also unwell and sadly passed away.
The stress and strain began to tell on me. No one had told me you can get depressed after a stroke.
It’s not just about getting out of hospital. The fight really starts as you try to come to terms with what has happened when you are at home on your own. I began to feel down and frustrated, which was affecting both Pippa and me.
I was referred to Audrey, Lead Stroke Nurse for Lothian with Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland.
“It means so much to speak with people who have been through what I’m going through.”
Audrey helped me to deal with the clinical aspects of stroke recovery. But, just as importantly, Audrey also put me in touch with other parts of the charity to give me more emotional and psychological support.
I was lucky enough to be introduced to two of the charity’s amazing volunteers.
Fellow stroke survivor Fiona talked with me about dealing with the effects of a stroke. Then I met Neil, another stroke survivor who has a similar mindset to me. We are both goal-orientated and both physically active. We struck up an instant connection.
Talking to Neil has been such a positive thing for me. It means so much to speak with people who have been through what I’m going through.
My time as a Marine taught me to be strong. But it also showed me how much stronger I am when I’m part of a team. Audrey and Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland gave me the team that helped push me forward.
But that team can only come together because of you.
Your generous donations mean amazing people like Audrey, Fiona and Neil can be the support team people like me and our families need at the most vulnerable and frightening time in our lives.
Please support Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland and donate what you can today. Without you, so many people in Scotland would not get the help they need at the very time they need it the most.
With my heartfelt thanks,
Will fund a call to our Advice Line nurses for anyone worried about the effects of stroke
Will provide one hour of vital one-to-one support at home to help someone adjust to life after stroke
Would help train a volunteer Kindness caller to make sure there is always someone at the end of the phone for people who feel isolated and lonely after stroke