Couple's quest to highlight plight of stroke sufferers

MARK NICHOLLS A Norfolk mum who suffered a stroke in her late 30s is travelling to Parliament next week to help highlight the difficulties families face when a relative is struck by the condition.

MARK NICHOLLS

A Norfolk mum who suffered a stroke in her late 30s is travelling to Parliament next week to help highlight the difficulties families face when a relative is struck by the condition.

Linda Watson will go to a Parliamentary Reception on Tuesday in an event to mark the Stroke Association extending its operation UK-wide.

But she also hopes to have the opportunity to tell MPs about the need for a unified approach to help people who suffer stroke.

Mrs Watson, now 42 and from Costessey near Norwich, said: “Families do find themselves in difficulty after a member of the family has a stroke. I consider myself a stroke survivor but my family are stroke victims.”

Mrs Watson, who works for Norfolk County council's children's services, currently acts as a volunteer for The Stroke Association by helping raise awareness of stroke and speaking about her experiences. She suffered a stroke in April 2002 at the age of 38 while gardening at home.

Most Read

She describes her experience of having a stroke that age with two young children, as “devastating and totally isolating.”

“I have been fortunate and have been able to return to work,” said Mrs Watson. “But I have had to battle all the way. We do not get the help and encouragement we need and there is not enough speech and language therapy services or physiotherapy.

“After my stroke I had to learn to do everything again including swallowing and to learn to talk. The first thing that came back to me with my speech was swearing, my first sentence had four expletives in it, but I am told that was normal.

“I am still receiving physio after almost five years and I am still making progress. It is small but nevertheless it is progress.

“I have had private physio, which means that I can be a productive member of society and not a person who is living off the state. But I am acutely aware that a lot of people are not so fortunate and struggle to make themselves understood.”

She said access to services varies from one area to another.

Mrs Watson lives with children Saul, 13, Carenza, 11, and husband David who will be travelling to London with her next week.

There are more than 900,000 people who have had a stroke living in England, around half of them are dependent on others for everyday activities. Each year 150,000 people in the UK have a stroke, which is the third biggest killer and the main cause of adult disability.

The cost of stroke to the NHS is estimated to be a total of £7bn per year, and 2007 will see stroke pushed further up the health agenda with the much anticipated National Stroke Strategy.

The Stroke Association aims to combat stroke in people of all ages, funding research into prevention, treatment, better methods of rehabilitation and helps stroke patients and their families directly through its Rehabilitation and Support Services.