Emma, a 37 year old Lawyer talks about feeling isolated as a young stroke survivor

Her recovery journey becomes a positive one, through her involvement with a support group.

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

Emma: My name’s Emma and I’m 37. I had a stroke in 2016 and I have aphasia as well. Before my stroke I was a lawyer and I was a judicial associate. It was very high up, but I loved it. Being at the court, it was thrilling. I had a headache that day and I didn’t go to work. And at 7:30 PM, I collapsed in my bathroom.

Kim: So it turned our world upside down. It’s not what you expect to have to hear about a child in their 30s. Our role changed initially in that we had a child who had left home at 18 and had to move back home at 33 and needed us to do lots of things.

Emma: At the rehab hospital, it was really hard because I was the only young person there. And I was telling to myself, “Oh, what’s wrong with me?” I can’t speak, my words made no sense. And yeah, it was very, very frustrating. I’ve got Broca’s aphasia, which means that I can’t concentrate very well. There’s difficulty talking, there’s comprehension using numbers. The speech therapist said, “Go along with this Maitland aphasia communication group.” And it was like a lifeline. I really enjoyed talking to everyone.

Kim: Finding a group of people that are like her has made an amazing difference to her wellbeing and to her outlook on life.

Emma: So every Friday we meet for two hours and we’re just laughing and talking and it’s great again. And every Friday is Aphasia Friday.

Kim: After her stroke, she couldn’t talk to us in sentences and could barely say many words, but she could sing. And I think in a way that was all very enlightening for us because we felt she’s still got it. The Emma pre-stroke may have been a bit embarrassed but the Emma post-stroke is out there, is not embarrassed. Happy to share her challenges.

Emma: So, the bin challenge was my idea. I put a piece of paper that said, “Aphasia is loss of language not intelligence.” It’s gone viral. I’m really thankful that I get to spread the word about aphasia.

Kim: She’s proud of herself and I’m proud of how determined she is and what she’s doing.

Emma: Thanks Mum

Kim: Two months ago, we moved to a house that has an area where she has like her own apartment. That is good, she can have some independence, work and by herself, but we’re there if she needs us

Emma: Me having my own space and mum and dad having their own space is really wonderful.

Kim: She needed us to drive her places. It was almost like having a young child again.

Emma: I really, really want to drive again. And it takes me two years and I’ve got there. And now I’m driving all over the country. Being back at work was really hard, but I was determined that I wanted to go back to work.

Kim: I’ve watched her struggle to write simple words and now she breezes through them and it’s so amazing to watch.

Emma: Now I’m working permanent part-time, so that was really good. I do love travel. Last year, I went to Indonesia and mum and dad and I went on a boat to Raja Ampat and I was paddling there which was really great. Now I get to do these things with a disability. It’s going to be a challenge, but I will get there.