On this day last year, my world was turned upside down at 3pm when my Dad had a stroke. The 19th of April is the anniversary of my first date with my husband, so the morning was spent looking forward to the romantic dinner we had planned for that evening. Just when you least expect it, life throws a grenade at you.
Thankfully, through the help of the London Ambulance Service as well as the amazing staff at Queen's Hospital in Romford, we managed to get that grenade as far away as possible from my daddy. A year on from that dreadful day, I just wanted to tell you a little bit about what we went through, just in case it may help you save one of your loved ones.
My dad seemed perfectly fine while we had lunch together, joking about in his usual way. A little while later I noticed him struggling to get something out of some plastic packaging. It was although his hands had turned to jelly. When I asked him if he was alright, I could see that his face seemed odd and that his speech was slurred. As my dad is a diabetic, and has no history of stroke, I immediately gave him a sugary drink, wondering if he was having a low blood sugar episode. When he struggled to drink, I knew it was more serious.
I remembered the "act FAST test" from the TV, and immediately went through it. His Face did look unusual, but when I asked him to raise his Arms he did this perfectly. His Speech was becoming more slurred by the minute. What I did not realise was that any ONE of these symptoms is enough to call an ambulance. I waited, thinking that if his arms are functioning perhaps it really was a low sugar issue. Once we tested my Dad's sugar level and saw that it was very high, I knew it was Time to call 999.
The wait for the ambulance was the most horrific time I have ever experienced in my life. I cursed the fact that my mum, who is a GP, was not with us. I prayed. I held my dad's hand. When the tears welled up I tried to turn the other way so as not to panic my dad. The relief of hearing the sirens is like none I have ever felt.
My dad was rushed to a Hyper Acute Stroke Unit in Essex and the clot-busting injection was administered to him immediately. I can honestly say that the ambulance staff as well as the staff at Queens were truly amazing. Not only did they look after my Dad, but they were very caring towards me, seeing that I was alone and not coping too well. It was 5 hours after the stroke occurred that my husband and mother made it to the hospital, and that was when I broke down, knowing that I had them for support.
Over the next two days my dad's recovery was remarkable, to the extent that he was discharged 48 hours after his stroke. Unfortunately a quick physical recovery does not necessarily come with a quick emotional recovery. He was unable to drive for a few months, meaning that he was not working, leaving him feeling a little isolated at home. As is common after a stroke, he has had bouts of depression, however I have every faith that he will overcome this just as he has overcome so much else in the last year.
I would implore you all to spend a few minutes to watch the advert below. If you notice a family member who has any of these symptoms and seems "not quite right", please call 999. Remember that stroke can affect people at any age.