"My father Peter had a serious stroke in May 2015. He was in hospital for four months and then in a rehabilitation centre for a whole year. The loss of his wife, my mother, in 2012 and other family issues may have contributed to him having the stroke. He was 74 at the time and the effects of his brain injury were devastating - he couldn’t walk and couldn’t speak.
He was still very poorly when he came out of the rehabilitation centre in September 2016 and we had a live-in carer for 8 months, but that didn’t work out long-term and so eventually my Dad went into a care home in April 2017. I was doing contract work at the time of my Father’s stroke and had also set up a wood turning business. I had to give the business up so that I could spend more time with him. I now work three days a week so that I can be with him on the other days including weekends. I also go to see him daily after work and we do exercises to help build him back up.
We have always been close because when I was younger my mother was in a car accident and my Dad and me worked together to help her recover, but when she died we became even closer. My dad’s attitude to life is to never give up and to help others as much as possible. Before he had his stroke we went on holidays together and had meals out. The fact that I am his son and know him so well helps us communicate with each other now.
When dad left the rehab centre the prognosis wasn't very positive. They said he wouldn’t ever walk again and that spurred me on even more. I knew that I could help my dad further and rehabilitation isn't just for a few days a week, it is hard work 7 days a week. This is what has made the difference to my dad's exceptional progress. Now Dad can walk semi-independently. He has made significant improvements both physically and cognitively. The way he fights and never gives up fighting is what motivates me. I don’t want my dad to feel isolated. It’s easy to put someone in a care home and forget about them.
It has been three years since his stroke and there is still so much work to do. However, I am the sort of person that once they start something, they have to see it through to the end. The challenge is finding the right balance between Dad being able to lead his life with a measure of independence and me being able to lead mine too.
It helps both me and Dad to be with other people who have experienced similar things. He enjoys coming to Headway Cambridgeshire. He attends the gym and also does singing sessions. Although he cannot say much more than ‘yes’ and ‘no,’ the words come when he is singing since that part of his brain is unaffected by the stroke. The social aspect of Headway has increased his confidence and understanding. He also attends Huntingdon Aphasia Support (formerly Speakability Huntingdon) which helps a great deal too. Without organisations like these people would struggle so much more and find getting better so much more difficult.
Although he can’t say the words, I know he is very grateful and worries over me. The fact is, I love my dad and he has never, ever given up. He is an inspiration to others. The journey maybe long or short but if you keep fighting you will get there in the end. We have always stuck together and I will continue to look after him and work with him until he is better. He never gives in so I can’t either.”