There is life after stroke

There is life after stroke

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We are going to talk about stroke over the next few weeks and you had better listen. We are going to talk about stroke as it is affecting us in Nigeria. You should be part of the discussion. Stroke is devastating and destroying life in Nigeria. Stroke may have even visited someone in your family.

No hiding place

This epidemic is in your neighbourhood and hiding in the church is no protection. The fact is that many people bury their heads in the sand and stick their bottoms up, hoping that it will not affect them. What you need is not deniability, but information.

People suffer strokes all over the world and stroke is not a respecter of persons. Yet, our people hide stroke victims and refuse to talk about it, as if that will make it go away! You need to know all about stroke and be very active in preventing stroke. Simply because God helps those who help themselves!

I am stroke: know me

Stroke is characterised by a sudden weakness of an arm or leg, sudden blindness, sudden confusion, and sudden problems with speech, difficulty in walking, sudden severe headaches, sudden collapse and sudden death. It is due to the blockage of a blood vessel carrying blood to the brain, leading to the injury or death of that part of the brain. This is why it occurs ‘suddenly’ as the tap carrying food to the brain gets turned off!

Stroke also occurs when a blood vessel bursts open in the brain. In both situations, the brain does not get the food and oxygen that it needs. Therefore, it suffers and stops working or dies if nothing is done.

Therefore, early presentation to hospital, accurate recognition, diagnosis and immediate treatment is required to save the injured brain and prevent permanent injury, which could lead to paralysis or death. Early presentation to a hospital can save lives.

I am stroke

World Stroke Day will be celebrated on Thursday, October 29, 2015 in efforts to raise awareness about stroke. That is why over the next few weeks, we are going to talk stroke and present the lives of those who have suffered from stroke or lived with it. Their experiences and journeys are both unique and insightful as we seek to shake off the stigma associated with stroke in Nigeria.

Mrs Florence Mbogu: carer

Florence is a nurse and retired as director in public health from the civil service. Her husband suffered a devastating stroke that claimed his life in 2011. She is now a stroke ambassador and an activist for stroke prevention. Florence decided to share her story with me in order to impress on Nigerians that we must all support the Stroke Action, Nigeria with quality strategic services through a multidisciplinary and holistic approach to drive stroke care in Nigeria.

Florence said that her husband dropped her off to work one fateful morning. However, several hours later, she got a distress call from a stranger to come home immediately. She rushed home to find that her husband had suffered a stroke.

She drove this time (no ambulances were available in Aba at that time) and rushed her husband to a private hospital where he spent a month. He recovered enough to start using a walking frame, while hoping for full recovery from the illness.

That hope was soon dashed as her husband suffered many more episodes of strokes: both mild and severe. Finally, she rushed him to India in 2009. Even then, little could be done. He had suffered many strokes and the brain was significantly affected. Regardless, he managed to live on; as she continued to get the best care for him in Nigeria, moving from one hospital to another and from one physiotherapy unit to the other: all ultimately in vain. It took a huge toll on her husband.

She said, “My husband slumped into worries, anxiety, irritability and uncontrollable depression as no credible solution was visible.”

Stroke can cause a devastating depression even worse than the disease itself. It just destroys life, love and self esteem. For Florence and her husband, the episodes of stroke continued and he had a total of 10 episodes of stroke before the final one that took his life.

The patient suffers and the people left behind suffer. Florence carries her scars about like a trooper. She has dedicated her life to ensuring that no one else goes through what she and her late husband suffered.

The problems were lack of a rapid response ambulance system, difficulty in accessing care, poor services, delays in care provision, lack of a care plan or strategy for stroke in Nigeria, poor or nonexistent funding for stroke and low level of awareness, even among health care practitioners. The list goes on and on in Nigeria.

Florence has vowed to contribute her quota, even in the smallest way. She said, “I will not die with my experience without telling my story. We need to prevent strokes, facilitate provision of quality services, limit the disability, motivate survivors and support the carers, promote education and knowledge about stroke prevention, risk factors and general healthy life styles.”

What is the lesson for you?

Today before you think of saying an unkind word – think of someone who can’t speak. Before you complain about the taste of your food – think of someone who cannot eat. To support the work of Stroke Action, Nigeria, please call Florence on 08189999902.

Join us to fight stroke.

NB: Next week: I am at your cervix!



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