Joanna’s ready to enjoy festive times after surviving a stroke - The Evesham Observer

Joanna’s ready to enjoy festive times after surviving a stroke

Evesham Editorial 13th Dec, 2019   0

MANY of the UK’s 1.2million stroke survivors are no longer able to enjoy Christmas treats such as unwrapping presents, decorating the tree or helping to cook the Christmas dinner.

A survey for the Stroke Association has revealed 39 per cent of survivors will be unable to enjoy such festive delights with one in five stroke unable to wish their friends and loved ones a ‘Merry Christmas’ due to problems with their communication.

Worcester teacher Joanna Marsh shared with the Observer how different her first Christmas since her stroke will be.

AFTER waking up earlier than usual in January, Joanna collapsed when she got out of bed.

The 54-year-old Worcester Royal Grammar School teacher managed to ring 111 and went to hospital where MRI scans confirmed Joanna had indeed had a stroke caused by a blood clot.

Although Joanna has since gone to make a good recovery, she still has problems with one-sided weakness and fatigue and had to have months of rehabilitation and physiotherapy.

Now, approaching her first Christmas since her stroke, Joanna already knows some of her Christmas traditions will change.

“I love Christmas but fatigue really will dictate what I can do this year. Since the age of 11, I have attended midnight mass with my mum and even read passages but now it’s just too late at night and I’ll be so tired,” Joanna said.

“As a Christmas tradition, we’ve always gone to watch Handel’s Messiah too but again it’s just too late for me after my stroke.”

“Friends and colleagues look at me and think I’m fine but I’m not all the time, it’s all much hidden. I really struggle with fatigue and this year I will have to skip the staff Christmas party and Christmas dinner with the school kids as it’s just too noisy and overwhelming for me.”

Joanna has had to adapt and recognise what she can and can’t do, especially around Christmas time.

“I used to love decorating the house and putting the tree up and I’ll try this year as usual even though it’s hard work.

Even writing Christmas is so much harder than it used to be.”

“Now though I’ve come to realise, ‘if I can’t do things, they want get done right away’ and that’s ok too. You do what you have to do as a stroke survivor. I’ve made so much progress since my stroke and I keep my drive and stay positive and as cheery as I can.”

Sarah Adderley, head of stroke support at the Stroke Association, said: “Christmas is a special time to enjoy with family and friends, but for thousands of people stroke will have had turned their lives upside down.

“That’s because stroke happens in the brain, the control centre of who we are and what we can do. The impact varies depending on which part of the brain is affected. It could be anything from wiping out your speech and physical abilities, to affecting your emotions and personality.

Visit for more on the Stroke Association’s Christmas Appeal.

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