I was employed as a member of the One Stop Shop for Bolton and was retired early because of ill health. I felt at this time my world was coming to an end. When I had my first stroke in 2006 suffering right-sided weakness to my arm and leg and again in 2009 when I suffered further right sided weakness and expressive dysphasia. In 2010 I suffered a TIA. The strokes affected my walking and I was walking with a stick and couldn’t walk far without pain, my speech was very laboured and slow and I suffered with very bad fatigue and low mood. I also started to gain in weight and was told by the Health Trainer at my doctors that I was borderline for diabetes 2.
When I left hospital the Stroke Advice and Support Service Co-ordinator supported me and then referred me to the Long Term Support Service where I was introduced to the Stroke Association Voluntary group Bolton West Stroke Support Group in Horwich which I attended at the twice monthly meetings.
Whilst I was attending the group, a hydrotherapy project was due to start with Bolton Neuro Voices in Bolton, a local organisation that supports and represents any neurological condition. So in August and September of 2012 I joined the hydrotherapy sessions at Bolton One this had a purpose built hydro pool for groups to use. I was keen to join, as it was a chance to get back in the water in a controlled environment as I had lost a lot of confidence but was willing to give it a go as in my younger days I had been a good swimmer.
It gave me more confidence and a more positive attitude as I really enjoyed it in thinking what I can do rather what I can’t. I have started to go back to the pool on my own doing some of these exercises and a little bit more swimming as well, it has given me a goal. I was hoping that these sessions would help me to walk a bit further without having to stop and rest and it has. I am not as dependent on others now. But, more importantly, I don’t feel so depressed and as isolated as I did. I could have easily thrown the towel in!”
However I was not losing the weight and so I was referred to the Rite Weight programme in Bolton and started the 10 week course learning about how simple changes in diet could help weight loss but at the same time they suggested that I should contact the Get Active Team in Bolton to see if there were any activities that I could attend which would help me to lose some weight and help strengthen the right side of my body as the Hydrotherapy sessions had made me ask what else can I do.
I decided to go along to one of the gym sessions still over 4 stone heavier than what I should BMI saying overweight wondering if I was doing the right thing as all these fitter people passed me I started to feel out of my comfort zone. But Geoff from the Get Active team and the other people in the group made me welcome and so every week I would go for an hour sometime twice a week if I could manage it and gradually I started to lose the weight and strengthen my right side in particular my right leg as I could not walk far and stand for a long time encouraged by this I thought what else could I do and so I decided to try the bikes with the Wheels for all Sessions at Leverhulme on Thursdays. It was not long before I was able to ride a two wheel bike round the track and after a few weeks I was encouraged to join one of the organised bike rides.
Off I went wishing I had not said I would give it a go as I fell off twice on the first trip but again I was supported by Helen from the Get Active Team and the other people who had joined the ride that I decided that I would go the following week and needless to say I go every week knowing that I supported by the staff and other riders in the group
So after almost 2 years of commitment and encouragement from the staff at Get Active and other members in the gym and bike group, Rite Weight Team together with Bolton Nuero Voices, and the Bolton West Stroke I have lost weight I have come down from 15 stone to 11 stone and from a 40in” waist to a 32in” waist. I can stand for longer walk further get round the house and garden without my stick.
There have been set backs along this journey and yes it is slow and sometimes painful, but for anyone reading this all I can say don’t sit there and hide away anything is possible if you set your mind to it I never thought that I would be able to do the things I do now when I had my second stroke and lost my speech and had even more weakness on the right side of my body and losing the sensitivity in my arm and hand just have to check the water temperature with my left hand as I scalded my right hand without knowing. It does not happen now thank goodness.
In recognition on my efforts I was awarded a certificate of commendation from the North West Stroke Association for their Life after Stroke Awards.
I really appreciate all the help and support I have had but its only by asking the questions and challenging yourself do you know what you can do. Life will never be the same for me but I intend to live it to the upmost not just for me but for my family.