'I'm not lazy, I'm a Warrior'

“I fight for my health every day in ways most people don’t understand. I’m not lazy, I’m a Warrior.”

If you’ve met me in person, either to have a conversation or at one of my stroke-awareness talks, you might recognise those words. They are the basis of the tattoo which adorns my left forearm and they are on the T-shirts I wear when I give my talks.

A young friend of mine found them (she knows who she is) and they sum up perfectly what it means to live as a stroke-survivor. Yes, there are countless physical manifestations but the mental strain of daily life can sometimes be the toughest part and that has certainly been the case this week for me.

I mentioned here seven days ago that I was awaiting two key medical appointments. Well, yesterday was the day (you become accustomed to going from hospital clinic to GP surgery to blood test in the space of a few hours) and although one question was answered, some key ones still remain.

My epilepsy consultant’s view was, essentially, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. In the past, he has toyed with changing my cocktail of medicines but is now minded to leave well alone. Changing or withdrawing treatment could have consequences and as I haven’t had a fit since February 2010, that wouldn’t be sensible. So, I’ll keep taking the tablets and see him in 12 months.

Having spent much of the morning at hospital, I came home for a brief lunch-break before heading to my local GP. I have become increasingly concerned about my hearing in recent weeks, so a test is now on the horizon but the main reason for my visit was my worry about increasing bouts of lethargy.

Stroke fatigue is well-known, of course. I’ve referred to it here many times, told how it can floor you for days on end and discussed how it can sometimes make getting out of bed a challenge. But I’ve never suffered fatigue as badly as I have in the past few weeks. The unknowing could mistake that lethargy and fatigue for laziness, hence the apt nature of the words with which I began this post.

My increasing lethargy might simply be worsening stroke fatigue and if that’s the case, there probably isn’t a great deal I can do about it. After all, as I have said here previously, my brain’s had a good kicking and sometimes needs rest as a result.

But it could be due to a host of other things, as well. I hope and suspect that it isn’t but as I spend a lot of my time these days telling others to get themselves checked out and be prepared, it is only sensible to do so myself. An extensive blood test is now booked for Monday November 5. We’ll see what it says but in the meantime, I won’t be doing too much.

That’s not laziness, it’s simply looking after myself. After all, my stroke-damaged brain is apt to think the worst outcome of any scenario these days, so getting concrete evidence of positive outcomes is essential to my mental well-being.

That sense of thinking the worst about everything is hard to explain, but I discuss it in the latest edition of my podcast ‘The Warrior.’ You can find it on iTunes or at http://thewarriorpodcast.libsyn.com. As you’ll hear if you give it a listen, any suggestion that my life is now stress-free because I am aware of what stress can do is completely wrong!