Brave Burnley stroke survivor offers hope to others
A keep fit pensioner from Burnley who once completed the London marathon and cycled most days has spoken how having a stroke will not stop him from exercising.
Former paramedic Bill Swift (71) from Burnley, who was running or cycling most days, suffered a mini-stroke (TIA) followed by a full stroke two months later. He spent eight days in hospital and two weeks in rehab.
Bill still has weakness in his left side but is determined to continue keeping fit and enjoying his hobby, just in different ways.
The grandfather of six said: “I find it very difficult to run now and struggle to coordinate, but I have Nordic walking poles and row instead of running. My stroke has affected me in a big way and there are days when I feel awful, but I’m determined not to let it stop me. I want people to know that a stroke can happen to anybody, regardless of age or fitness levels.
“It’s very important to have people around you who understand and are willing to support. When I came out of hospital, my running buddy came out with me and it took us half an hour to walk half a km. His support and the fact he was understanding was invaluable."
Bill was speaking as research shows nearly half (45%) of people who know a survivor of stroke personally admitting that they are struggling to support them to make their best possible recovery, according to new findings published by the Stroke Association.
The research reveals that one important reason for the lack of stroke support for survivors stems from a lack of awareness of what stroke is and how it affects people.
Bill added: “When I went back to church, even people who didn’t know me before the stroke understood and it helped me so much. A stroke affects your emotions, and that emotional support from people who understand makes such a difference. If I ever go into a situation where people don’t know I’ve had a stroke, I tell them tactfully in conversation.
“It’s up to survivors to let people know, don’t be ashamed. Tell people you might just need a little extra help. It’s just a matter of not being afraid to tactfully let them know.”
The charity published its findings to mark the launch of its newest campaign, Rebuilding Lives, which aims to showcase the challenges faced by stroke survivors and those who support them with their recoveries.
For more information about Rebuilding Lives or about stroke, visit www.stroke.org.uk/rebuildinglives.