I talk a lot about the new directions in which my life has gone post-stroke. This week has provided two really good examples of that.
In last week's post, I mentioned my work with the Stroke Association, as a 'talking head', a member of a research-grant funding panel and as a stroke-survivor helping to formulate the Association's new five-year strategy.
For the last three years, that work has seen me receive an invitation to attend their Keynote Lecture in London - a lecture by an eminent academic in the field of stroke research, delivered to an audience of medical professionals, academics and stroke-survivors. This year's lecture took place last Wednesday at the Guildhall in the City of London and was delivered by Professor Marion Walker MBE, Professor of Stroke Rehabilitation at Nottingham University.
The lecture was entitled: ''Living Life Well: Rehabilitation matters.'' Stroke rehab is a subject close to my heart as I don't believe the NHS takes it anywhere near as seriously as it should, for a number of reasons inside and outside its control. The professor was joined by a stroke survivor who told how his rehabilitation had been helped by his employer having an enlightened HR department who were willing and able to manage his return to work effectively.
That's all very well if you have an employer, of course. If you are self-employed, as I was when I had my stroke in 2013, your HR department can very often be you - and you will probably be in no fit state to argue a case. The evening was hosted by TV newsreader Alastair Stewart and in the Q&A session which followed the lecture, the excellent Mr Stewart allowed me to make that point in my usual forceful, but polite, manner.
I was also able to collar the Stroke Association CEO, Juliette Bouverie, over the post-lecture canapes and she told me that the difficulties faced by self-employed stroke-survivors would have to be addressed as part of the SA's new five-year strategy. If you had told me before December 16 2013 that I would be putting such a case so forcefully in such an environment, I'm not sure if I would have believed you. Talk about getting a second chance at life and grabbing it...
Then, on Friday, I gave a talk at a business meeting about the brain - explaining how the various parts work, what each one does, what happens when they go wrong - all things which would have been well outside my capabilities before that fateful day.
I spent most of last week telling people that having a stroke at 49 could have led me down two paths - give up on life or make the most of every day. I would like to think I'm doing the latter and last week was so rewarding that I'm glad I chose that path.