Laine talks about the perspective and wisdom stroke has given her

9 years on, Laine reflects on the perspective and wisdom the stroke has given her. Living with physical pain and fatigue, Laine constantly re-evaluates where she directs her time and energy, to live a happy and fulfilling life.

Some of the topics discussed will get you thinking about your own experiences. If you feel any distress, talk with someone you trust—perhaps a family member, friend, or your doctor. If you need support, information or advice StrokeLine’s health professionals are available 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, AEST. Call StrokeLine on 1800 787 653 or email strokeline@strokefoundation.org.au. Lifeline is available 24 hours a day on 13 11 44.

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Video transcript

Laine: My name’s Laine. I’m 45, happily married 20 years with two boys, 17 and 14. I had my stroke nine years ago. So I think what happened was it was a normal everyday Saturday, had a really good day. We went to bed and I literally remember stepping out to go to the toilet and I fell. Luckily, I laughed because my husband then woke up, and I remember him saying, “What’s wrong? What’s happened? Why are you laughing?” And I said, “I can’t get up.” And I remember trying to push myself to get up, and I couldn’t get up. And then by which time he’s already up out of his side of bed, walked around to me, and he’s looked at me, he’s seen my face had dropped. That happened and then I started to throw up. So it was like something was seriously wrong. So by which time my husband’s got upstairs, got the kids out of bed, they were quite young at the time, came downstairs, put their shoes on. He chucked me over his shoulder and just took me straight to the emergency hospital. Yeah, so that was pretty traumatic.

It was a hemorrhagic stroke, prefrontal lobe, and that caused my whole left side to be paralyzed.

My husband was told the night that we moved from the emergency hospital to the stroke unit, a young doctor said to him, “Your wife’s not going to be the same again.” And for him I cry… Like I’m upset for him to have to hear that when your wife’s… It’s the unknown and to have that said to you in such a straightforward, clinical way, that was quite hard for him.

I was in the stroke unit for about a week, and I was just busting to get into rehab. I knew that was my goal to get home for my boys and to the family, so I thought that’s what I need to do, so I need to smash out my rehab.

The physios always said to me, “If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.” So referring to my left hand or my left leg. And I think my leg came back faster than my left hand. The bigger muscle obviously so they always try to get you up and walking, and very conscious of making sure that I used this left hand, that it’s part of me, rather than taking the easy option of using my right hand because it was easier and it was more comfortable.

I’m generally more positive than I am negative. And I think that people see, “Oh, she’s really good, she’s coping with it.” Which most of the time I am and there’s days I just… I can’t function to the best of my ability.

The most challenging I would say is my pain and fatigue. I walk quite well, I talk quite well. It’s the hidden sort of disability, if you’d like, that people can’t see. The pain is chronic, it’s nine years of it.

And when I was first discharged from rehab I was given outpatients unit to go to, and also they had a young stroke survivors group. And I was very aware that I walked in, I was very aware that I could talk, that I presented physically quite good, quite well. I felt like I didn’t belong in the sense of these people have so much worse than I have had. It’s not like it’s a comparison of who’s got the worst impairment, but it’s more the I just wasn’t sure that I was in the right place. You then hold back some things that you’re going through because you think they’re going through something worse.

When you had to face your mortality and sort of look at what could have been, I’ve got this new perspective on life. And I think that I try to surround myself with people who I love, people that love me, things I love to do. I also give back to the community so I volunteer with Ziggy. We do pet therapy and that’s been really rewarding. And that’s just really, you know, it’s feeds my soul and just being able to help other people who are stroke survivors or who are going through rehab.

I’ve had to reevaluate and sort of… sort of, yeah, reevaluate where I put my energy because fatigue is such a high and such a big, important thing in my life that I have to manage my time better. I’ve gone back into things that I loved doing when I was a kid. So I loved to craft as a kid, I used to love pottery as a kid, so I’ve now sort of taken on classes. I craft and make family albums so then I can pass on to my boys our family memories which I think is really important, and I find it therapeutic and it’s fun, and it kind of brings me joy. I try to see the positive in things, and rather than focus on what could have been I’m happy with the person I am today and how far I’ve come I think.