This is not for sissies!

One thing has become abundantly clear to me over the last few months: recovering from a stroke or a head injury is not easy. It is bloody hard! It takes determination, optimism, courage, stubborness and committment to face the repercussions of a stroke or traumatic brain injury. This is most definitley not for sissies.

The hardest reality that I have to help my patients face is that a stroke or head injury is life-changing. They will never have the same life they had before the injury. Helping the inidividual and the family members to come to this realisation is difficult. They need a place to share their pain, disappointment and frustration.

Realising that your life has changed requires a period of re-adustment and a growing acceptance of the new reality. Your life may have changed but it is not over. There are always things to look forward to, ways to adapt old interests, new friends to be made, things to be learnt and shared. The journey of recovery is never travelled alone and there is always someone who has been there before you. But, the process is long and hard and patience is essential.

I find that one of the biggest attributes an individual will learn following a stroke or head injury is patience. If you were someone who was not patient before your stroke, you will learn to become patient whether you like it or not! The recovery process takes time. There is no end point but there is a long, difficult path that needs to be followed. I believe that recovery can continue for years and years after an injury. As long as you are determined to make an effort and do as much as you can for yourself you will continue to improve and grow.

So the recovery process is long and when you are in the middle of it, it seems never-ending. And we all have difficult days when we just want to give up, when we just can't see the light at the end of the tunnel. Those days will happen and they are not nice but they have to be endured. Remember that you are not alone. You have therapists, family and friends, new friends who have been along the journey ahead of you. They are all there to help you through those tough days or weeks.

You also have a choice. You can choose to be happy with the improvements you have made thus far. You can decide that you have gone as far as you would like to go and you are now happy to go on your own. You can decide that therapy has served its purpose and that you are now able to go it on your own. You've made new friends, new interests, learned new coping strategies and put all your therapy into practice. You are content with the new you.

 You can also choose to continue fighting and to persevere through the difficult days or weeks. You may decide that you want to improve a little bit more and reach a slightly higher level of ability, if possible. This requires a little more time and committment but it could be worth it.

I think each time you are faced with a difficult day where the new challenges are too much and the realities of your stroke are too stark, step back and realise you have a choice to make at each point. Sometimes the decision is made without even thinking about it. But either way the decision is noble as YOU are the one living life with the stroke or head injury. You have been brave and faced it head on. That was your choice.







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    Claire Ashford

    Claire has assisted in the rehabilitation of many individuals who have experienced a stroke or head injury and over the years, these are some of the topics that individuals and families have raised.

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We have a special interest in treating individuals who experience communication and swallowing difficulties as a result of a stroke, traumatic brain injury or degenerative disorder.