Busy, rewarding, instructive, educational: the story of my week

It's been a busy week in Warrior-land; as busy as I can sensibly make it, to be honest. After my trip to Manchester last Tuesday and Wednesday, Mrs W and I were in Northampton on Saturday for the 20th  anniversary celebration of Different Strokes (differentstrokes.co.uk), one of the stroke-survivor charities we support.

Different Strokes promotes itself as offering support for 'younger' (i.e., working age) stroke-survivors and is very active on social media, with a Facebook group of over 3,000 active members and an informative website. It also runs exercise groups around the country staffed entirely by volunteers, while the Head Office staff, based in Milton Keynes, have been incredibly useful and pro-active in helping me with my efforts to promote stroke-awareness.

There were two speakers at the conference; journalist and writer Robert McCrum, who suffered a stroke himself back in the early-1980s and was active in setting up DS, then Megan Giglia, the Paralympic cyclist who I mentioned here a few weeks ago who won a gold medal at the recent Games in Rio.

Listening to them both was inspiring and it seems unfair to highlight just one; they both typify the 'can do' attitude which is needed to make the best of life post-stroke. But Megan made it clear that winning Olympic gold takes exactly the same kind of dedication, commitment and effort, whether you are able-bodied or a Paralympian. Food for thought, I reckon.....

I was also reminded how being a stroke-survivor has taken me into aspects of life which just never occurred to me before 3pm on December 16 2013. Who would have thought there would be an organisation dedicated to helping aspiring musicians who can only use one hand? As someone whose interest in music has always been listening to it, not playing it, I certainly didn't. But the One-Handed Musical Instrument Trust does exist; I visited the exhibition stand it took at the conference and I saw (but didn't test.....) some examples of the instruments.  It's based in Birmingham, it has a fascinating website at www.ohmi.org.uk and I'd recommend you take a look. You'll learn something.

Having just recovered from a day in Northampton, I was off up the M1/A1 on Monday morning to speak about my stroke experience at a 4Networking breakfast in Washington, Tyne and Wear. The invitation had come about through a chance meeting in Cannock (don't ask; it's one of those 'you never know who you'll meet at a networking event' moments) and I was only able to take it up thanks to the splendid Dave Collinge of SMQ Group, one of my networking contacts.

It was hard work (not least getting all the way from the Midlands to the north-east unhindered, then spending 45 minutes on a flyover five miles from our destination, going nowhere fast as a result of an accident in some road-works) but it was worth it.

I am now in contact with someone who may help me to publish a book on my experience, I talked to a lady who encourages businesses to employ young disabled people and I spoke to Victoria Bartle (Business Coach and Disability Awareness Speaker). I promised I would mention her blog, The Amazing Adventures of Stick Girl. I wouldn't just recommend you take a look at it; I'd strongly urge you to take a look; you'll learn plenty, especially about the joys (lol) of living with invisible illnesses.

After all this, I ought to just go and lie down in a dark room. Indeed, there are plenty of my friends who would all but carry me into that room and lock the door, only letting me out when I was fully refreshed. And I will do it in an hour or so, because I know and believe that my body and brain need it. Indeed, as I write I've started to yawn, which is a certain sign of stroke-fatigue striking. But I have just a couple of other things to do first.

Sometimes, I can be my own worst enemy.