A ‘NIGHTMARE world’ is how a Boston man described his condition after suffering two strokes which left him severely disabled.
Joe Nash, of Punchbowl Lane, was first struck with the condition aged just 49, when he was a ‘healthy builder’ who swam two-miles a week.
Now chairman of the Boston Stroke Support Group, Joe is appealing for people to be aware of the first signs of stroke. “Don’t be like me,” said Joe, now aged 63. “There is information on prevention out there. It’s important to recognise the subtle symptoms and act fast as the first few hours are crucial.”
Recounting his own story to The Standard, Joe said his first stroke happened 15 years ago when he lived in Littlehampton and began to feel unwell and ‘wobbly’ one day. Doctors initially diagnosed depression but when his speech began to slur they asked if he had an alcohol problem. After no improvement in his symptoms, Joe was sent to hospital in Worthing.
“The only test they did was for me to walk up and down the ward while I was observed,” he said. “I was told there was nothing medically wrong with me and sent home.”
Two days later Joe was back on the hospital ward where he suffered a massive stroke that night after a bleed to his brain stem.
“I was rushed to intensive care, stabilised and fitted with a tracheotomy,” he said. “I ended up paralysed on my right side and weakened on my left side.”
Joe was hospitalised for six months and emerged unable to hobble more than 50 feet.
Over the next few years, determined not to fall into depression, but to treat his condition as ‘an adventure’ instead, Joe swam, rode his tricycle and walked as much as he could.
He was making slow progress - but four years later, having moved to Boston, Joe suffered a second stroke when a dislodged blood clot in his lungs caused a blockage in his brain.
This happened on New Year’s Eve night in 1999 while the rest of the world was out celebrating the new Millennium. Joe was admitted to Pilgrim Hospital and lost his speech and the use of his left side.
“After this second stroke I could only shuffle a few feet with a Zimmer frame with someone to steady me,” he said. “They were devastating times, more for my wife than for me.”
Concluding, he added: “Stroke is nearly always preventable. Too few people understand what a stroke is or what the symptoms are. Strokes not just for old people, I know one girl who had her stroke while still in the womb.”
The NHS says stroke is the third leading cause of death in the UK and the largest cause of adult disability.
Hurry, be FAST – remember the Face-Arm-Speech-Test to recognise stroke symptoms.
F is for facial numbness or weakness, especially on one side.
A is for arm numbness or weakness, especially on one side.
S is for slurred speech, or difficulty speaking or understanding.
T is for time; it’s time to call 999 because ‘Time is Brain’.
Boston Stroke Support Club holds monthly meetings in The Queen Of Spades pub in Wellington Road, Boston and offer free advice and support.
For more information contact Joe Nash on 01205 311255 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have you overcome adversity? Email email@example.com.