Life after stroke: taking over my daughter's role in life
At 53, I became a surrogate mother to my daughter’s 2 children, a carer to someone with a severe disability, and a person who felt completely alone in the world. But, I soon realised, I wasn’t alone at all.
Note: Names in this article 'Life after Stroke' have been changed for privacy reasons.
Her speech changed, her left side became very weak and distorted. She lost the ability to walk, and talk. They said she’d had a stroke, which left her with a brain injury.
Anne’s children were just 6 and 7 years old at the time, but she was no longer able to look after them so I was given full custody.
I adore my grandchildren, but I was terrified.
I’d drop the kids off at school, take public transport to the hospital, spend a couple of hours there with my daughter, take her dirty washing home on public transport, get back to the school just in time to pick the kids up, then it was time for dinner, homework, baths, more washing. I didn’t even understand the modern school system. I couldn’t answer their homework questions. So much had changed since I was at school.
I was trying to help the kids cope with what had happened to their mum, while trying to deal with my own emotions. My daughter had become incapacitated, and I’d become a mother again at 53. I was utterly exhausted.
I lost a lot of contact with my friends. They didn’t have young kids at home any more so they were in a different stage of their lives. I was lonely.
One of my saving graces was BrainLink, a group which works to improve the quality of life for people impacted by acquired brain injuries and disorders. One of the greatest things they’ve ever done for me was to take me away for a night. It gave me a chance to just breath. To be able to rest, and to connect with other carers was invaluable. The realisation that other people were out there going through the same thing was empowering.
In March they hold an event Walk 4 BrainLink to raise funds.
There’s still a lot that’s unknown about what really happened to Anne.
Anne’s health challenges started with a drug overdose. I believe in my heart that she was poisoned. She’s the only one who can tell us, and she doesn’t remember. Straight afterwards, Anne was recovering in hospital and making great progress. We’d been told she would make a full recovery, and live a near-normal life. In our eyes, the worst was over.