Jim's story: We call ourselves stroke survivors, not patients - that's very important
Jim Whyte was forced to give up work after having a stroke, but he’s proved that there is life after stroke.
Jim was getting out of a van when he suddenly felt his left leg turn to jelly. “I fell down, and my workmates got me a chair,” he says. “They brought me a cup of tea, but I couldn’t work out where the handle was to grasp it. Somehow I knew I’d had a stroke and asked them to take me to hospital.
“By the time I got there, I didn’t have any feeling in the left side of me. I felt like a lump of meat. I could hardly get out of the car.”
Doctors confirmed that Jim was right; he'd had a stroke. He spent the next 27 weeks in hospital undergoing rehabilitation and physiotherapy. “Luckily, my speech was still all right, though I’m sure my kids and grandchildren sometimes wish I’d be quiet!” he says. “During my time in hospital I regained around 85% use of my hand and arm. I’m actually very lucky.”
Jim had high blood pressure and was diabetic, which are both risk factors for stroke. However, he had never smoked and, due to his diabetes, was already following the healthy diet recommended for stroke survivors.
“My wife was a chef and she made sure we ate properly,” he says. He was put on tablets for high blood pressure and now has regular checks. “When I had the stroke, I had no idea I had high blood pressure,” he says.
Jim had his stroke more than 10 years ago. Although it forced him to give up work, he makes a point of leading an active, healthy lifestyle. He attends his local stroke survivors club every week, which includes exercise sessions, talks from experts and a blood-pressure check.
“It’s also a great place to share advice and make friends,” says Jim. “It’s good to talk about any problems you’re having with people who have been through the same thing. I’d recommend any stroke survivors to contact the Stroke Association to get information on their nearest club.” He also visits stroke survivors in hospital.
Jim believes there is life after stroke. “We call ourselves stroke survivors, not patients; that’s very important. When you’ve had a stroke, the most important thing to do is accept it. Unless you do that, it’s difficult to move forward. But once you do, you’ll realise that you can live a very happy, active life. I certainly do!”