Helping me deal with the hidden side of brain-damage

Every couple of months over the last two years, Mrs Warrior and I have had a regular date with a neuropsychologist. An extremely likeable and understanding man, he helps us deal with the unseen aspects of the aftermath of a stroke.

We were first put in touch with him in the summer of 2014, when one of the occupational therapists I was seeing as part of my rehabilitation became extremely concerned about how I was dealing (for which, read "wasn't dealing") with the mental issues which stroke brings. For instance, how I had changed as a person, how my ability to be the breadwinner in our family had changed, how I needed to acknowledge the extent to which things such as stroke-fatigue would now rule my life. And how my brain's inability to tell the difference between 'now' and 'know' would become so annoying, lol.....

He's been brilliant. He's helped me to focus on what I can do rather than what I can't, he's encouraged me in my efforts to promote stroke-education and he's supported me in my journey to train as a counsellor for stroke-survivors. This time last year, he told me that the stress of having no money was making my brain-damage worse and he put in motion the process which led to me being retired on ill-health grounds just after Christmas, giving me access to my company pensions.

He was able to come to that conclusion because every October, my brain is exhaustively tested. It's a four-hour test which seems to challenge every part of how my brain works. I'm good at some bits and plain bad at others, a result which obviously means more to the expensively-trained eye than it does to mine.

We're seeing him again tomorrow (Thursday September 15). I don't expect to have the test tomorrow but I expect him to arrange an appointment for it. Having done it twice, I might finally acknowledge that I can take regular breaks during it; in the past, I think I've tried to prove something to myself and to him by only taking the proffered break halfway through. I don't suppose it's made any difference to the result but given that it's taken until this year for me to realise that my knackered brain works much better when it's refreshed.....

Not every stroke-survivor has access to a neuropsychologist because not every NHS Trust has the money in their budget to afford one. Yet seeing mine has been by some way the most useful part of my long-term rehabilitation. Yes, the physiotherapists and OTs were very good for as long as I had them, but once they finished, the rest of it has been down to my own efforts (and those of #breathebalancebeactivatedemily, obviously).

The NHS will never have enough money unless there is a radical change in the way we think about how we fund it. I'm not holding my breath. But helping stroke-survivors acknowledge and deal with the mental side of their situation is something just as important as the physical side, in my view. I'd like to see all stroke-survivors have the chance to see someone who could help them as much as mine has helped me.

I'm not asking for much, am I?