Mitcham stroke survivor Holly Holmes, 28, is one of the hundreds of people living with communication difficulties after a stroke.
Holly, a mother of one and a former trainee nurse, has had to work extra hard on her recovery. Holly had her first stroke in April this year, and just six months later, as she was beginning to recover, she had a second stroke. The strokes left Holly with right sided weakness and a communication difficulty called aphasia. Holly can’t read or write, and she struggles to talk.
Holly said: “The whole time after my first stroke I felt as if I was in a big bubble; no one could come near me, no one spoke to me, and I may as well had been invisible.
“My mum helped me take care of my seven-year-old son Andre; I felt like I’d lost all of my independence. I couldn’t even help Andre with his homework anymore.
“With aphasia it’s so easy to feel trapped in your home. Attempting to speak can be tiring and also embarrassing. Thankfully, my mum went round to all the local shops to tell them I have aphasia, because I was afraid they would think I was drunk or on drugs. This has been really helpful because I now have the confidence to leave the house.
“To have a communication difficulty is terrifying. No one can ever realise just how lonely aphasia is.
“Over the last month with the help from my amazing speech therapist, I’m making huge improvements. My speaking has been with huge thanks to my speech therapist and their wider team. I have also been blessed with a great medical team who are always at the end of the phone.
"I want to make sure my son can see that I’m not going to give up. I’m looking forward to being able to do simple things again, like counting money, reading my son a story, and writing.”
The Stroke Association’s Lost for Words campaign aims to raise awareness of the challenges stroke survivors with communication difficulties can face, and help and support available.
Lucy Hayes, Communication Support Coordinator at the Stroke Association, said: “After a stroke, around one in three people like Holly have difficulty communicating, which can be both terrifying and isolating. Holly’s gone from strength to strength with the support from local speech therapists, and she has so much to be proud of.”
More than 350,000 people in the UK have aphasia, a communication disability which can be caused by stroke. The Stroke Association is urging people to show their support for stroke survivors who are lost for words and make a donation. For more information, visit www.stroke.org.uk/lostforwords.
A stroke is a brain attack which happens when the blood supply to the brain is cut off, caused by a clot or bleeding in the brain. There are around 152,000 strokes in the UK every year and it is one of the largest causes of disability. There are over 1.2 million people in the UK living with the effects of stroke.
Stroke Association is a charity. We believe in life after stroke and together we can conquer stroke. We work directly with stroke survivors and their families and carers, with health and social care professionals and with scientists and researchers. We campaign to improve stroke care and support people to make the best recovery they can. We fund research to develop new treatments and ways of preventing stroke. The Stroke Helpline (0303 303 3100) provides information and support on stroke. More information can be found at www.stroke.org.uk