Understanding Stroke.

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This is the post I have wanted to write for years but never found the power to do so.

Back in September 2013 my Nan (My Dad’s Mother) passed away from a sudden Stroke. It’s always been a bit hard to talk about, even when she comes up in conversation now days it still chokes me up inside. Let me start by saying I undoubtedly loved my Nan, she was such a happy, inspirational woman who would help anyone and she meant the world to me. In the summer of 2012 I lived with her while training for a new job as location made it the best option to do so. I think that time helped cement our relationship in so many ways.

The reason it’s hard for me to process and why this post is 5 years in the making is because I was the one who raised the alarm, the one who witnessed her have a Stroke right in front of me.

I walked into the block of flats and was told she’d just been take out for a belated Birthday meal by a group from the block and she might be having an afternoon nap. I walked into her flat and she was awake and watching T.V. – she stood up, said hello, gave me a hug and a kiss and then sat back down again. That was the moment it struck.

It was the most bizarre thing. She was fine, her loveable self but as soon as she sat down. She’d changed. The idea of a stroke went through my head but I didn’t want to accept it. I kept telling myself she was tired. She couldn’t speak and just looked at me lost – I thought give it a minute. She will snap out of it. I was asking her questions and trying to spark a conversation but with no luck. She patted me on the arm in a supportive reassuring way and I knew. I got up and rushed to find the block manager.

She lived in a retirement block where a manager overlooked everything and everyone. A place for the elderly who are still capable but looking to downsize. It’s a cute block with lovely people.

I find her having a cup of tea with the group that went out with my Nan. Which included her sister – my great-aunt. Struggling to string a sentence together I get the manager (Mary) to come check on my Nan. We rush back and she tries some response exercises to get a reaction from my Nan. I just sink back into the corner of the flat as Mary rushes off to call an Ambulance. She returns with the other block manager and my great-aunt who instantly goes into sister mode and tells her to stop being silly and to get up.

The paramedics get there, assess the situation and start to strap her into the chair to take her out. In that instant I learn so much about my Nan’s medical history that I never knew. To me she was always this strong amazing woman. Nothing could stop her. But to find out she has had falls and a small stroke before.

I didn’t know any of this. What is going? I’m now climbing into the wall. I really just want to wake up now.

We get to the hospital and the doctor has me sat in a little room explaining what is going on. Words like clot, brain damage and high blood pressure form a sentence but I’m still a wreck. He wants permission to start a procedure that will flush the clot on her brain, but there is a chance there has been too much bleeding and she will be left disabled. I remember thinking I can’t make that call. Of course I want them to save her and bring her back to the woman I knew but what about if things went wrong. I need my Dad or Aunt to decide. I can’t reach my dad and my aunt is at the airport about to fly out on holiday. I get her on the phone and just can’t string the words together.

The Doctor takes over and explains it all. She agrees to go ahead. But then it comes to light her blood pressure is too high to start and we have to wait.

Two days later on Friday 13th she passes away.

Losing a family member is hard, especially when its someone you care for so much but being the one to witness it is a whole new kettle of fish. Everyone kept saying just remember the good times, remember the last time you saw her – which worked for my sister and the family. But not so much for me.

The worst thing about it is I can’t ever talk to her again, introduce her to my GF, she’ll never meet my children or be there with a pot of tea as I walk in.

This is what hurts the most and so the Stroke Association has become a charity I support and follow with passion. I’d even love the chance to work for them to give anything I can back to them. I did a fundraiser for a Dry October a few years back and raised over £700 for the cause. I am also looking at doing the next fundraiser for the charity soon – but still deciding on what to do. As I feel as big as the charity is, it’s over looked with other causes and charitable organisations.

Here are the numbers and stats that you might not know about Stroke.

  • Stroke occurs approximately 152,000 times a year in the UK which is one every 3 minutes 27 seconds. 
  • Stroke kills TWICE as many women as breast cancer and more men than prostate and testicular cancer combined in a year. 
  • Stroke is one of the largest causes of disability – half of all stroke survivors have a disability. 
  • Stroke is the FOURTH single largest cause of death in the UK and SECOND in the world. 
  • For every cancer patient living in the UK, £241 is spent each year on medical research, compared with just £48 a year for stroke patient. 

Just let these sink in for a second. The second largest cause of death in the world is Stroke. Out of every horror in the world this is number two for deaths.

Stroke is a life threatening disease that is caused when blood flow to part of the brain is obstructed. There are two kinds of Stroke Ischemic and Hemorrhagic, the Ischemic is due to lack of blood and the Hemorrhagic is due to bleeding. Regardless of style they both lead to the same place and resulting in the brain not functioning as it should.

If this post does nothing else I hope it brings a small bit of education into your lives. It’s a horrific disease and it should be recognised more within society in my opinion. Help me raise awareness and bring these facts to light and to grow the support this charity has.


All the facts I have used in this post come from the Stroke Association website (https://www.stroke.org.uk/). I have not been asked by the Stroke Association to write this or promote their work – this is a personal post looking to educate people of the seriousness of Stroke.