Skip to content

12 reasons why meeting The Queen was NOT my highlight in 2014! My review Kate Allatt

This year has been an unprecedented year even by my standards! (though the law of averages meant that I was due a good year both professionally and personally.)

So I’ve chosen my top 12 moments of the year to share with you both from my charity – Fighting Strokes – point of view & from Kate Allatt – the motivational & educational speaker/writer/blogger/consultant.

So here we go..

IMG_3796.JPG

12.  Fighting Strokes lost a trustee but gained three new trustees who are all utterly fabulous and specialists in their own areas!  Joanna Fletcher-Smith – a specialist occupational therapist researcher at the prestigious Nottingham University.  Kate Scott-Nelson a trained and highly experienced accountant who is employed by Ernst & Young. Finally, we are also delighted to welcome to our team consultant physician in stroke and geriatric medicine, Sarah Blayney.

 

IMG_3797.JPG

 

11.  Fighting Strokes has been invited to become a member of the prestigious UKSF Steering Committee which guides and influences stroke policy.  We have already raised our profile and respect amongst stroke clinicians, researchers and doctors and personally visited over 18 patients affected by stroke in the UK. This is what Fighting Strokes stands for.

 

 

IMG_3798.PNG

 

10.  We increased our ‘likes’, followers, reach, engagement & interactivity on all forms of social media we use – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, our new Youtube channel & more blog hits to this blog – arockystrokerecovery.com.  We are regularly endorsed for our social media posting activities.  We are also a guest blogger for three other sites and extended our recruitment of social media administrators to share the load/interactivity and inspiration globally.

 

IMG_3799.JPG

 

9.  We found and sourced  a documentary film Director to explore the ‘myths of locked in syndrome’  and we have been filming for 6 months now.  The Diving Bell & Butterfly film and book only represents one side of this awful illness and prognosis – some people actually recover significantly more movement than initially expected and make more progress.  I’ve always believed these stories need to be told too in the interests of both balance and inspiration and real, not false, hope.

 

IMG_3800.JPG

 

8.  We secured important  collaborations with Devices 4 Dignity & others and delivered a variety of speeches to preceptorships, nurses and professionals on a variety of subjects including – continence, compassion & dignity, inclusivity, assistive devices and improving patient care in  the NHS.

 

IMG_3801.JPG

 

7.   I finished writing and then launched my 3rd ebook – I Am Still The Same –  in November 2014. It designed to be a self-help stroke recovery tool. It took 2.5 years to research and write. I hope it practically helps anyone affected by stroke. We tried our best! (Be gentle!)

Kate Allatt (internationally published author of ‘Running Free’ ) and Cheryl Galsworthy have written this practical book which aims to be a self-management tool for anyone affected by stroke or acquired brain injury.

We hope I Am Still The Same will equip survivors with hands-on information to help them manage their own recoveries, both physically and emotionally, after ‘the bomb has exploded.’

What may surprise you is that I Am Still The Same is not just a book about Locked-in Syndrome recovery although the subject is covered.

I Am Still The Same alludes to the fact that the person inside often thinks and feels the same yet their life and others’ attitudes towards them, are now very different.

This book also covers subjects such as coping with cognition and mobility issues, assistive technology, aphasia, childhood stroke and parenting after stroke, the  emotional fallout and other taboos.

Hopefully, sufferers will be able to proactively self-manage their own progress improvement but also benefit from better understanding and empathy from others.

We proudly give a ‘voice’ to other stroke survivors who otherwise are often unheard. The book includes an abridged version of Kate’s own stroke recovery journey.

IMG_3802.GIF

 

 

6.  Fighting Strokes is absolutely DELIGHTED to announce the new national feasibility study which we hope will help all types of stroke survivors struggling with upper limb disabilities. I always believed that my own recovery was aided by the experimental electrical stimulation that I received applied quite soon on my arms/wrists in rehab.  My experience was also corroborated by other stroke survivors who used electrical stimulation  frequently, repetitively and intensively too themselves privately. They say it has helped to either reduce pain or contractures or gave them positive neuroplasticity or brain re-wiring effects. The feasibility study grant application, that was so impressively formally written by Joanna Fletcher-Smith was approved to the tune of £250,000 by the RfPB!  Perhaps my legacy?  Can you believe the whole idea started from a cheeky Tweet to Joanna! I loved social media before this Tweet, but now I like it even more!

 

 

IMG_3803.JPG

 

5.  I have secured some phenomenal paid speaking gigs this year which have enabled me to carry on doing my voluntary work with Fighting Strokes – Cunard & BNP Paribas to name a couple – along with appointing a new speaker agent Diana, from  DBA Speakers.

 

IMG_3805.JPG

 

4.  After months of wrangling we managed to get the dramatisation Rights back for ‘Running Free’ and have recently made some significant progress with an American Emmy award winning TV producer. Watch this space???

IMG_3810-0.JPG

3.  I wrote the content for a stroke recovery app … but now I need to secure funding and a key collaborator – could it just be Imperial College London?

 

IMG_3807.JPG

 

2.  I was also invited on my 44th birthday (and completely coincidentally) to go to a Buckingham Palace Garden Party to honour my charity work with my best friend Al. (Mark was supposed to be away in Dubai in case you were wondering!)

IMG_1921-0.JPG

IMG_1926.JPG

 

IMG_3808.JPG

 

1.  My family. We have had a traumatic three and a half years but calmness has restored, well for now at least!

Long may it last?  Happy Christmas and a merry new 2015!

 

IMG_2783.JPG

 

 

 

By @KateAllatt 

NEW EBOOK!

I Am Still The Same -Self help stroke recovery tool

Internationally published author ‘Running Free’ (Amazon) .  Speaker –   Founder Fighting Strokes

Things you must know about arm & hand stroke rehabilitation treatments. #strokerehabilitation #fightingstrokes

stroke rehabilitation interventions

Anyone interested in this was a very useful chapter from Dr Robert Teasell so I’m sharing it.

More stuff on https://m.facebook.com/fightingstrokes?_rdr or https://www.youtube.com/user/fightingstrokes

 

 

Abstract Upper extremity complications are common following stroke and may be seriously debilitating. Regaining mobility in the upper extremities is often more difficult than in lower extremities, which can seriously impact the progress of rehabilitation. A large body of research exists around upper extremity complications but debate continues regarding the timing of treatmentand adequate prognostic factors.This review provides current information regarding upper extremity interventions. Topics include robotic devices for movement therapy, virtual reality technology, spasticity treatment, EMG/biofeedback, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, functional electric stimulation, and hand edema treatment. Neurodevelopmental upper extremity therapy techniques are reviewed along with repetitive/task-specific training, sensorimotor interventions, hand splinting and constraint induced movement therapy.

 

But here are some things you should know:

Initial degree of motor impairment is the best predictor of motor recovery following a stroke. Functional recovery goals are appropriate for those patients who are expected to achieve a greater amount of motor recovery in the arm and hand. Compensatory treatment goals should be pursued if there is an expected outcome of poor motor recovery.

 Attempts to regain function in the affected upper extremity should be limited to those individuals already showing signs of some recovery.

 Neurodevelopment techniques are not superior to other therapeutic approaches in treatment of the hemiparetic upper extremity.

 It is uncertain whether enhanced therapy results in improved short-term upper extremity functioning.

 It is uncertain whether repetitive task specific training techniques improve upper extremity function.

 It is uncertain whether sensorimotor training results in improved upper extremity function.

 It is uncertain whether mental practice results in improved motor and ADL functioning after stroke.

 Hand splinting does not improve motor function or reduce contractures in the upper extremity.

 Constraint-induced movement therapy is a beneficial treatment approach for those stroke patients with some active wrist and hand movement.

 Sensorimotor training with robotic devices improves functional and motor outcomes of the shoulder and elbow; however, it does not improve functional and motor outcomes of the wrist and hand.

 There is preliminary evidence that virtual reality therapy may improve motor outcomes post stroke.

 Hand splints do not reduce spasticity nor prevent contracture.

 Botulinum Toxin decreases spasticity and increases range of motion; however, these improvements do not necessarily result in better upper extremity function.

 Botulinum Toxin in combination with electrical stimulation improves tone in the upper extremity.

 More research is needed to determine the effectiveness of Nerve Blocks for spasticity.

 Physical Therapy may not be effective for reducing spasticity in the upper extremity.

EMG/Biofeedback therapy is not superior to other forms of treatment in the treatment of the hemiparetic upper extremity.

 Intermittent pneumatic compression is not an effective treatment for hand edema.

 It is uncertain whether Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation improves outcomes post-stroke

 Functional Electrical Stimulation therapy improves hemiparetic upper extremity function.

 Antidepressant drugs may improve short-term motor performance.

By @KateAllatt 

NEW EBOOK!

I Am Still The Same -Self help stroke recovery tool

Internationally published author ‘Running Free’ (Amazon) .  Speaker –   Founder Fighting Strokes

How to improve patient care in the NHS? @kateallatt

Clinical patient dignity is not equal to real patient dignity, trust me!

 

We talk about patient dignity and compassion all the time but aren’t they simply fashionable new buzz words?

 

In the back of my mind I’m thinking that the phrase ‘patient or person-centred’ feels like a term we often use but don’t actually fully embrace.

 

Being patient-centred is‘where the rules and procedures of the health care fit the person, rather than making the person fit the rules and procedures of the health service’ according to The Royal College of Nursing.

 

We also talk about treating ‘the whole patient’. The phrase sounds nice doesn’t it? So does that mean we treat the whole patient by understanding that patients’ former life, interests, motivations, family AND FRIEND dynamics, before they got ill? If it is then great but this was often not the case with me or other patients..

 

Wouldn’t this help improve patient outcomes, facilitate patients’ earlier discharge home and reduce overall treatment costs?

 

Most patients I engage with via social media through the charity I founded – Fighting Strokes – think these are simply convenient, empty words or slogans.

 

I will always be forever grateful for the knowledge, professionalism, diligence and timeliness of my own brainstem stroke with locked-in treatment action plan.  This started on 7th February 2010 almost immediately after I collapsed at home and continued in the ambulance, ICU and then on in rehab.  I completely understand that the NHS is being squeezed from every angle and at a time when patient treatment expectations are also going through the roof!

 

Without the immediate treatment response I received to my illness, I wouldn’t have been able to return home to be a mother to my three, dependent children and a wife to my husband.

 

But I also wouldn’t have become the VOICE that I am for other stroke survivors globally either.  I like to think I’m a true patient advocate.

 

Stroke recovery, acute locked in syndrome improvement and raising awareness of the physical and emotional post-stroke issues, once ‘the bomb has exploded’,  is my calling, it’s simply not a choice for me.  I received amazing life-saving treatment and I have a second chance of life which I have grabbed with both hands, for as long as I am around!

 

So when we talk of compassion and patient dignity I have one simple rule to help the caring/life-saving profession – TREAT PEOPLE LIKE YOU WOULD WANT TO BE TREATED. Simple!

For example, when a paralysed woman (who is heavily menstruating) is the wrapped up in the standard issue-white-NHS towel after a shower, I suggest that every effort should be made to preserve her dignity and quickly dress her and replace a new incontinence pad. Trust me, it would have helped me manage my anxiety levels enormously.

 

Similarly, don’t ALWAYS send a student nurse to attend a locked-in patient when the patient needs their soiled ‘nappy’ changing as it generally takes four times longer to do, (and with considerably more wipes.) Just because the patient can’t complain, more often than not a qualified nurse should do this task.

 

Finally, when doctors or nurses say they will do something for a patient, but then don’t/can’t, explain this to the individual immediately. Try not to leave the patient waiting.

They will usually respect your honesty and understand that you have had an unforeseen event to attend to ahead of their promised treatment procedure. The patient is also likely to trust you more.

 

It’s not rocket science!

As I stress, please TREAT PEOPLE LIKE YOU WOULD WANT TO BE TREATED (or you would treat your Gran!)

 

 

 

By @KateAllatt 

NEW EBOOK!

I Am Still The Same -Self help stroke recovery tool

Internationally published author ‘Running Free’ (Amazon) .  Speaker –   Founder Fighting Strokes

Influential speeches & 5 years in the life of Kate Allatt @KateAllatt

In the last two weeks, I have delivered very important keynote speeches for the Royal College of Nurses about urinery incontinence in Brighton and then at French Investment bank – BNP Paribas – about inclusivity and diversity in the workplace.

Next week I’m off to deliver a keynote speech at the NEC in Birmingham about what assistive technology would help to improve the daily living activities of stroke survivors.

Finally, and before Fighting Strokes gets to exhibit at the UKSF conference in Harrogate in December, I will be delivering a keynote speech here NHS Improving Patient Benefit conference.

Back in the summer when I was basting myself on a sun lounger in Turkey, I received a spam advert for this event to book onto.

When I read through the list of speakers I thought

‘This is a vitally important conference about how to improve patient benefit in the NHS, yet there are no patients speaking at the conference with the clinicians, doctors and researchers. Surely I’m missing something?’

Well I wasn’t.

When I flew home I approached the organiser to impress on him the need to have a patient representative speaker at the event.

Within 2 weeks I was booked to be the first keynote speaker at the event in Manchester on 26th November 2014! Hey, if you don’t ask you don’t get!

This busy conference season has got me thinking about how my life, over the last 5 years, has changed since precisely 18.09 on 7th February 2010. No one could have predicted it, not least me.

(We even had other news recently that my initial electrical stimulation idea has been worked up into a £1/4 million feasibility study.)

So in my hotel room I designed this 2 minute video to remind myself of how far I have come. If you like my own motivation in order to make the next 5 years count perhaps as much. After all, we only die once.

I hope you enjoy.

2 minute film now because it shows my life before 7th February 2010 – my inspiration were my young kids and my obsessive running

By @KateAllatt 

NEW EBOOK!

I Am Still The Same -Self help stroke recovery tool

Internationally published author ‘Running Free’ (Amazon) .  Speaker –   Founder Fighting Strokes

IMG_3572.JPG

Affected by Dysphagia like me? Important new research! #stroke

Could New Research Into Swallowing Function Give Hope to Dysphagia Sufferers?

Swallowing difficulties, broadly categorised under the medical term

Dysphagia, are a debilitating problem for millions of people worldwide. Most commonly found in stroke victims and cancer patients, the condition can heap misery upon the life of its sufferers, unable to enjoy food or even feed oneself in many instances.

However, a new study has given a glimmer of hope to the many victims desperate to escape the confines that dysphagia brings, so what’s it all about?

Research carried out by Sonja Molfenter, assistant professor at Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development at New York University (NYU) has identified a correlation between size and height of a person and their swallowing function. The paper, entitled Use of an Anatomical Scalar to Control for Sex-Based Size Differences in Measures of Hyoid Excursion During Swallowing, develops upon the widely accepted theory that gender has an effect on the biomechanics of swallowing, by considering height as a determining factor as well.

Broadly speaking, men tend to have a greater movement in swallowing ability than women and Molfenter’s study reinforced this finding.

IMG_3344-0.JPG

However, the paper also explored whether the gender of a person having an effect on swallowing function could be attributed to their height as opposed to just being a biological difference between men and women.

The results were conclusive in proving size is just as important as gender when it comes to determining swallowing function and this has left the door open to further research into analysing how we tackle the symptoms of dysphagia.

There has long been a need for more targeted, specialist treatments for those with difficulties swallowing tablets, food and even liquids so there is hope that Molfenter’s study could see further breakthroughs in what we know about the way the human body can and cannot deal with swallowing.

With new ideas come new hopes for the many sufferers of the debilitating condition of dysphagia and there is renewed optimism that this study could yet prompt further research into new methods and treatments to help tackle what is a crippling problem for so many stroke victims and other patients unlucky enough to suffer with swallowing difficulties.

With the report’s findings only just having been released, it is too early to determine just how much of an effect they will have into the research around dysphagia and the recovery process for stroke victims and cancer sufferers.

However, there is certainly positivity to be taken from the fact that this study has taken steps to address our understanding dysphagia and it can only provoke further investigation into the root causes of the condition and how we ultimately treat it.

 

Sharer @KateAllatt 

Internationally published author ‘Running Free’ (Amazon) http://www.amazon.co.uk/Running-Free-Breaking-Locked-Syndrome/dp/1908006641.  Speaker – http://www.kateallatt.com/  Founder Fighting Strokes. http://www.fightingstrokes.org/

IMG_3330-0.JPG

Shock, disbelief & denial – immediately after a severe stroke has struck.

A friend wrote:

‘Hi,
I just got an email from a friend to say his wife has had a stroke and is paralyzed. I’ll put the email below.
Can you please advise me on anything you think I can do, or any information that I could share with my friend that might be of help to him. Please help me, I don’t know what to do or say….
Kind regards,

Below is his email:
(My wife) had a stroke on Saturday. The doctors think she will be paralyzed for life and that the best case scenario will be that she has right arm movement..

She is fully conscious of her surroundings and has full mental function, but is trapped in a body that can’t do anything.

She won’t walk again…but i’m hoping and praying for a miracle. She might not survive, but I find it hard to accept. My life is falling apart after everything was going so well. I also have a 3 week old baby amongst all of this….

Life is totally unfair.’

Our Fighting Strokes response:

Hello

There is always hope and I mean real hope. Some people do better than others. That's true. But some people don't eg. 'The Diving Bell & Butterfly'. This is far too early to know what her long term prognosis will be.

How long ago was it?

There are no promises just possibilities. (My charity strap line).

Incidentally my husband was told that I would never speak again and now you can't stop me. Every stroke is different. Every individual is different and every set of loved-ones and access to and quality of therapy is different.

No one knows I am not God nor are the doctors. Doctors are universally negative about this very early on. They worry about giving 'false hope' to desperate families. They worry about litigation if they say a patient will progress further than they actually do. Ultimately, like the MND disease, they often fear treating locked-in and locked in syndrome in my opinion.

Who is helping with the baby? That's incredibly tough. Are there parents, sisters, brothers around, good friends, what help/advice are the authorities giving?

Where does she live?

Was the damage a Brainstem stroke?
How substantial was the damage eg were the multiple clots, dissection across the whole left/right pons in the basilar artery?

Please read Running Free (Ebook amazon) it's very practically helpful.

Is there a clinical team established or neurologists, neuro physio, occupational therapist, speech therapist and psychologist?

Most importantly you MUST try to establish a method of communication.

Eg. Eye roll up and down for yes and no.
A blink for no and two blinks for yes.
Moving a certain digit.

Download the lingraphica ICU app. You can use it to establish of she is in pain, not sleeping, hot, cold, unhappy etc and all she would need to do is blink once or twice to communicate with you as you read down the pre-prepared list.

Practical ideas to help the emotional pressures on her and her boredom.

Pictures and phone video images of you and your baby. I can tell you from experience that baby will give her the best fight ever, which should give her the best chance of improving. The separation anxiety was dreadful and torturous for me.

A docking station with her favourite music on
DVDs or films
Talking books

Do you have some sort of visitor timetable – it's very lonely is the baby being brought in?

This is gonna be a long process. It will be very demanding and there will be huge highs but severe lows too.

Read Norman Doidge 'the brain that changes itself.' It's all about very early intensive, frequent and repetitive actions. This is called Neuroplasticity and will help to re-route the brain around the damaged parts. (Unless the damage is completely right to left across the artery in my lay- opinion)

This is about establishing bite sized goals focus on trying to think about what needs to be done today, tomorrow and next week. Do not look too far ahead it's completely overwhelming.

For example you might have to make a decision for her to have a tracheostomy or a stomach feed. That's normal and doesn't necessarily mean it's permanent
Is she on life support? If so, your goal would be to try to start the process of weaning her off it.

IMG_1225.JPG

Join my closed Facebook groups
'Tips Brainstem stroke locked in syndrome'
'Fighting strokes – the loved-ones

"Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It's the courage to continue that counts." Winston Churchill

Take careIMG_1301.JPG

6 tips to spot a devastating brainstem stroke

Brain stem strokes can be difficult to diagnose and complex,  according to Dr. Richard Bernstein, assistant professor of neurology in the Stroke Program at  Northwestern University in Chicago.

Brain stem stroke can cause:

  1. Vertigo
  2. Dizziness
  3. Double vision
  4. Slurred speech
  5. Severe imbalance and
  6. Decreased level of consciousness.

So what does the brainstem do? Well it controls all basic activities of the central nervous system: consciousness, blood pressure, and breathing. All the motor functions are controlled by it. It’s like our body’s control box.  Brain stem strokes can impair any or all of these functions. “These complications are often predictable and, with prompt recognition, can be treated,” Dr. Bernstein says. “If complications are dealt with quickly, there is a good chance of recovery.”

More severe brain stem strokes can cause Locked in Syndrome -http://cirrie.buffalo.edu/encyclopedia/en/article/303/ a condition in which survivors can move only their eyes.

“It is important that the public and healthcare professionals know all of the symptoms of a stroke and are aware that some brain stem strokes heave distinct symptom,” Dr. Bernstein says. “Patients need to receive treatment as soon as possible to promote the best recovery.”

Like all strokes, brain stem strokes produce a wide spectrum of deficits and recovery. Over time, these symptoms could result  in mild to moderate and short to long term difficulties.

Risk factors for brain stem stroke are the same as for strokes in other areas of the brain: high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, atrial fibrillation and smoking. Like strokes in other areas of the brain, brain stem strokes can be caused by a clot or a hemorrhage. There are also rare causes, like injury to an artery due to sudden head or neck movements. This was my actually the cause of my injury.

“Dramatic recovery from a brain stem stroke is possible,” says Dr. Richard Harvey, director of stroke rehabilitation at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. “Because brain stem strokes do not usually affect language ability, the patient is able to participate more fully in rehabilitation therapy. Most deficits are motor-related, not cognitive. Double vision and vertigo commonly resolve after several weeks of recovery in mild to moderate brain stem strokes.”

 

 

Resources for Locked-in Syndrome

Running Free: Breaking out from Locked in syndrome Allatt/Stokes http://www.amazon.co.uk/Running-Free-Breaking-Locked-In-Syndrome-ebook/dp/B008G5LRZS

 

untitled4

 

 

Locked In: A Young Woman’s Battle with Stroke. Mozersky, Judy. The Golden Dog Press, 1996. ISBN 0-919614-64-7.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. Bauby, Jean-Dominique. Random House Value Publishing, 1995. ISBN 0-517409-31-3.

 

Information Sources

Adapted from “Surviving a Brain Stem Stroke”, Stroke Connection January/February 2003 and http://www.strokeassociation.org/STROKEORG/AboutStroke/EffectsofStroke/Brain-Stem-Stroke_UCM_310771_Article.jsp#mainContent

 

By @KateAllatt 

NEW EBOOK!

I Am Still The Same -Self help stroke recovery tool

Internationally published author ‘Running Free’ (Amazon) .  Speaker –   Founder Fighting Strokes

6 tips if you are socially withdrawn after stroke

1. Understand your insecurities.

Learn to pay attention to negative thoughts and distinguish the rational thoughts from the irrational ones.

Until you’ve addressed your insecurities and told yourself you’re a worthy person, you won’t be able to truly socialise.

Do you constantly tell yourself you’re unattractive?
Do you tell yourself you’re ‘not normal’ now? That you are misunderstood?
Unhinged or irritable or emotional?

Negative thoughts like these are what keep you from feeling confident enough to be a social person.

2. Recognise & compartmentalise away your negative thoughts.

First, acknowledge that the negative thought is there. Label it as a “negative” thought, and then let it slowly dissolve until it disappears completely.
Turn a negative thought into a constructive one. For example, I can’t walk anymore independently. So you tell yourself you are ‘disabled’ (like I did) Instead tell yourself ‘I’d like to walk and get my strength back so that I can do the things I once enjoyed & be more social. This way, you can turn a negative thought into a positive goal for the future.
For every negative thought, think of three positive thoughts.
Being positive makes you more socially approachable.

3. List your positive qualities.

Unfortunately, we spend so much time trying to improve ourselves that we forget to acknowledge our accomplishments, our talents, and our good nature. Why not ask yourself the following questions to get you started:

What have you done in the past year that you are proud of?
What is your proudest accomplishment of all time?
What unique talents do you have?
What do people tend to compliment you on?
What positive impact have you made on other peoples’ lives?

Most of the time it’s hard to remember your past achievements, so why not write them down on a piece of paper as they happen, and put them in an ‘achievements jar’ in your kitchen?

4. Stop comparing yourself to others.

Keep in mind that behind closed doors, everybody experiences pain or suffering from time to time. If you find yourself wondering why certain people seem happier than you, remind yourself that happiness has little to do with external circumstances, and everything to do with attitude.
Life is challenging for everyone
In different ways and we all have different coping thresholds.

5. Remember that you’re not the center of the universe. (This was my thinking in 2011!)

I felt invisible and insecure also tend to feel like they are constantly being watched, criticised, and laughed at.

I thought strangers were constantly staring at you and waiting for you to mess up or judging me on my obsessive passion. They did privately question whether I was actually moving on, though now realise I had to do what I did.

Remember people are so involved with their own lives that they have little time to notice if you do or say something embarrassing.

Get over the fact that everyone is judging you. Like you, they are more concerned about themselves than the people around them.

6. Get over your fear of rejection. (Hard I know, as I felt I’d lost my place socially because I was no longer perceived as ‘normal’ by others, but now I know no-one is perfectly normal!)

But think about all of the amazing relationships you can form if you just put yourself out there more.

Hope this helps make you feel more social.

Adapted from:

http://m.wikihow.com/Become-a-More-Social-Person

IMG_2759.PNG

IMG_2759-0.PNG

Do you really know if someone is conscious? @kateallatt

As I emerged from my medically induced coma in February 2010, I had periods (in amongst my severe hallucinations) where I slowly became aware that I was on a life support machine in hospital, following a stroke. But I was completely unable to physically communicate that fact to anyone – for two weeks.

I was experiencing what people describe as ‘locked in’ syndrome.

It was terrifying. My response to seeing someone who loved me coming to visit me was to cry tears. But there was no noise, just tears rolling down my face. People assumed they were involuntary movements – but it was genuine emotion. My friends, family and doctors assumed I was in a vegetative state – but I was there the whole time.

I could see and hear, and feel anybody touching me and yet my brain couldn’t instruct any part of my body to move.

I couldn’t develop any communication signal, which is the key thing with anybody locked in – either an eye gaze or a blink. But I couldn’t do that. There was no outward sign that I could understand anything.

It was like being buried alive. There was no TV turned on for me – all I had was a clock on the wall and patients screaming around me. I had three kids who were six, nine and ten at the time who hadn’t been to see me so the separation anxiety was beyond belief. I was so bored, fearful, upset, angry, in denial, scared and hot – I couldn’t regulate my temperature.

I was in constant fear that the conversations my loved ones were having were that I wasn’t worth being saved.

Above all it was frustrating because the doctors made no attempt to try to formerly establish any communication signal at that point, something I’m still struggling to understand. Instead, it took my proactive friends to try to find a way to communicate with me using a rudimentary communication board, because they wanted to unlock the person they believed to be still inside.

In two weeks my consciousness improved and my friends were able to get me to blink to answer questions (blinking to spell out letters, which was a long process). I was still locked- in but I was able to blink to communicate.

My experience has taught me that we should always assume that a patient is conscious until we have absolutely proven otherwise. Beyond that, we must be truly compassionate in our care for patients who are in a vegetative or minimally conscious or locked-in state.

Patients need to be kept alive and I am personally so very grateful for the skills of my medical and nursing teams in giving me my second chance of life, but treat the human being too, it’s not just about patient SATs and vital signs.

Is the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score, which is used to assess consciousness, always reliable and interpreted accurately? Indeed, is it performed on a patient every hour?

For anyone ITU is a very scary place. People die. Inappropriate conversations are overheard. Patients are often in pain and scared for their own survival. ITU is boring, so patients tend to over think and stress about what may happen to them. It’s also incredibly lonely.

All brain injuries are different, but we must start being truly patient-centred in our care of such patients and start treating the whole person – that’s both physically and emotionally.

Health professionals need to start treating people like they themselves would want to be treated.

My determined self-belief and hope against all the odds was ultimately what got me through and why my charity strap line is ‘no promises, just possibilities.’

Lets make stroke sexy!

untitled

 

A stroke is anything but sexy, let me be clear so I don’t offend anyone from the outset!

However, why have we still not made the subject of stroke with politicians, TV and newspaper editors SEXY enough to write about?

How often do you see more than just a few column inches or online pages dedicated to stroke recovery?

Cancer charities have successfully given cancer messages an even higher impact when they talk about giving the illness the ‘V-sign’ on TV.

Yet our national stroke messages seem so utterly boring and not newsworthy, well unless you are a well-known celebrity. (Andrew Marr, Lauren Bacall, ChrisTarrant, Hilary Devey, Jessie J, Sharon Stone,…..) give me strength. Normal people have strokes. In fact anything with a brain can have a stroke, so that includes unborn children in the womb!

While I’m ranting, why are other cancer charities and governments so preoccupied with stroke prevention?

Sure, prevention is very important, but what about those poor people who didn’t actually manage to prevent their stroke happening in the first place? What messages are out there to help us self-manage our own recoveries and possibly contribute to society?

Change the record please and start ‘ass kicking stroke’ and redress your stroke marketing messages to help people try to aspire to recovering more.

ass

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,820 other followers