“You never really know a man until you understand things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” Harper Lee
There are many ways to try to understand stroke.
If you are a medical professional, you are likely to be primarily interested in the technical aspects of the condition. For example, if you are a clinician in acute care, you want to know what is going on in the brain and specifically what went wrong in the case of the stroke survivor in front of you; if you are a speech and language therapist, you probably want to know how the person affected can learn to improve the quality of their speech; if you are a physiotherapist, you will want to assess the neurological damage to muscles and how strength and mobility can be improved.
If, on the other hand, you are a professional caring for someone affected by stroke, you will want to meet their needs by trying to see life from their perspective. If you are a carer and a family member, you will also want to support them, while maintaining your own health and well-being – and that’s a whole other area, for another time.
Perhaps the best way to try to understand the full enormity of stroke is to read about the lived experience of those affected by the condition. That is why I want to draw the attention of followers of this blog to a book by a friend of mine, Robert Dalrymple. It is called At the Stroke of a Brush.
I have got to know Robert over the last few years through our voluntary work with the Stroke Association. Robert lives in East Lothian and his book describes life as a stroke survivor in modern Scotland. Considering the challenges he has faced every day since suffering a major stroke in February 1999, Robert has achieved a great deal. For example, I have listened to him holding the attention of an audience at events in the Scottish parliament, and his achievements have been nationally recognised by the charity Headway.
In the introduction to his book, Robert says:
The book has been written in the hope that it will be of some benefit to others who find themselves in a similar position. The style is simple because I am not a writer.
The style is indeed simple – simple and direct, but I would dispute his claim that he is not a writer. His straightforward style is both moving and effective in conveying the daily challenges he faces, and doing so without displaying an ounce of self-pity. The font is large and the layout designed to make the book accessible to those with a visual or language impairment.
Robert’s book is an opportunity to “climb into his skin and walk around in it”.
If you feel it would be of interest to you or someone you know affected by stroke or brain injury, you can obtain a copy by sending an email to me via the contact details on this blog.