Thornbury & District       Stroke Support Group


Registered Charity No. 1129777  

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Covid in the Stroke of a Pen

Forward

Those who are Stroke Survivors or those that have other life changing illnesses are only too aware of the effects of lockdown owing to Covid19. In many cases they suffer similar restrictions throughout their daily life before the virus came about.

Having experienced the frustrations of not being able to carry out a ‘normal’ life, might now make us all realise what those with various disabilities cope with as a matter of course. Because of what we have experienced, we can hopefully learn from this and treat everyone with a bit more empathy and understanding.

Imagine what it must be like being the victim of a stroke and enduring lockdown.

Please read this account from a Stroke Survivor:


Being a Stroke Survivor, although debilitating, has given me inner strength that I did not know I possessed.  Being a member of a support group helps you to cope with everyday life as we know it, the camaraderie and access to sympathy and empathy from others in the group and reciprocating it when needed is an enormous help.  Also, the volunteers who give their time so selflessly to make sure that we do in fact have friendship and the ability to discuss things that are distressing are invaluable. They also provide us with distractions like swimming, bowls, art, group meetings with speakers, organised day trips and an annual holiday.  Obviously I am talking about Thornbury and District Stroke Support Group whilst writing this, but I feel that any help group whether it is stroke, brain tumour, cancer, heart attacks and in turn mental health to name a few, everyone needs someone who has been through the same experience to talk to and share a bond.


So, having set the picture, you can imagine what impact COVID 19 has had on everyone who are members and volunteers in groups around the Country whatever the disability or distress.  I do however, hope that you indulge me when I speak only of our Thornbury and District Stroke Group as this is the only group that I am a member of and therefore have first-hand knowledge.


I suppose when you first go into lockdown you think of all the things that you can or cannot do when you’re not able to go out, but because of issues with our health, what our mind thinks, our body cannot do and as a consequence, none of the jobs that you diligently put on a list to keep you ‘occupied’ are done.  I think the attitude is ‘there is always tomorrow’.  Another great worry was how do we get essentials, milk, eggs, flour, Toilet Rolls……… as none of us could really venture out because we were considered particularly vulnerable and shielding was in place.  At this time I panicked, so I went on the internet for milk to be delivered, but there was such a queue that the site kept crashing; they said there was 200 plus people in front of me, so how was I going to get bread etc? Well luckily over the first three days I had established suppliers that would bring them to my door BUT of course there are those that just did not know the first thing about juggling the internet let alone being able to use a computer.  There was also a problem with online food shopping, at first there were no slots for anyone until the priority system came into being.  I know that having had a stroke I do not like any conflict and want things to flow smoothly, otherwise I get distressed and these disruptions to our usual existence were taking its toll.


As a Trustee of the Stroke Group I knew first-hand how the Trustees were trying to help the members of the stroke group by allocating each volunteer to a small group of Stroke Survivors so that they could help them and provide company over the phone. In turn the Stroke Survivors were told to phone their volunteer should they need them.  Also, I know that the Trustees committee have been thinking of ways to help those who are alone and lonely.  It must be remembered that many of our volunteers were considered vulnerable because of age and were also limited in what they could do.


Even if you have a partner you can still be lonely sometimes and need the company of your Group to help you along.  They are if you like, the only ones who truly understand what it is like to be very down and suffer from depression and mental health issues and that is one of the lasting legacies of having a stroke in the conditions we are in.


COVID 19 restrictions and lockdown sucked us dry and I for one felt extremely depressed being within 4 walls day in day out for 4 months and I am one of the lucky ones with a good view from my window, especially in the summer months.  I must say though that the thought of a winter lockdown is filling me with dread as we have been through it once and fear another bout.


We started our own Facebook Stroke Support Group Page which has quite a few members and this is where we can write bits and pieces about our life, tell stupid jokes or share pictures of places people have been and things that have been done.  A bonus is that it has brought together people from different subgroups like art, swimming, bowls and the main Group who may not meet regularly otherwise.  I feel some of our group have a stigma about Facebook and steer clear BUT it is by invitation only and we can moderate anything we don’t like.

 

Our Zoom meetings on Tuesday evenings where we can see each other and have a natter have become popular.  Seeing someone’s face makes you feel calmer and happier.  I have also recently organised a Zoom Art Class and I hope that others will join in,  It’s the Camaraderie that is missed and having spoken to numerous people on the telephone they just want their friends back, the ones that stand by them and understand exactly what they are going through.


I am at a loss to know how things will pan out in the coming months, but time has taught me that we must all stand together. Speak to someone other than your immediate friends, provide empathy and sympathy and also laugh with them. Just be an ear and take the lonely edge off just for a few minutes.


Take Care everyone and BE SAFE


Jill Davis

October 2020