“I’m having a stroke”

Getting to the hospital

So I said I’d had a stroke, but I didn’t know. All I knew was that something was wrong. I wasn’t myself

My wife picked up the phone. I can’t remember which she called first: the ambulance or the doctor.

All the time I’m thinking FAST, from watching the TV’s public information films. F – facial drooping; A – arm weakness; S – speech difficulties; T –to call the emergency services and go. Fast is the way you’re supposed to react to someone having one. So you catch the stroke happening, not pick up the pieces after all the damage has been done.

She called the ambulance. “It’ll be a couple of hours before we can get to you. Are you willing to wait?” No.

She called the doctor at our local practice, Galletly in Bourne. “The doctor will call you back. Are you willing to wait?” No.

She said we should go in the car. But which hospital was her next question. Peterborough or Grantham? Grantham was the nearest by a couple of miles; Peterborough was further, but bigger. Should be able to cope. Should be equipped. In truth, we had no idea, which was best kitted out for dealing with a stroke. We opted for Peterborough.

On the way I was sick, violently so. All down my front, all over the car, eventually into a sick bag, or a dog poo bag, whichever you prefer. Six times is all I can remember. Motion sickness is something I wasn’t aware of affecting people who have had strokes. I am now.

When we arrived at Peterborough A&E, my wife just parked the car at the entrance and got out to get me a wheelchair. She wheeled me to reception, explained my problem, then left to park the car. While she was away, I just sat there. Eventually when she returned she asked what they said. I just shook my head. She went back to reception and, a bit more forcefully, explained my predicament. She was told again she’d have to wait. One of the other receptionists overheard her conversation and took control. Within minutes, it seemed, I was wheeled in to see a doctor.

She ran some tests, checked me in and sent me onward for assessment. Without going into great detail, I was assessed, and told to wait in a chair by the door. I fell asleep. As I would find out over the coming days, having a stroke takes it out of you.