The bloody side-effects of a stroke survivor

22nd Apr

I’ve written many times about how I try to play down the difficulties of living with a brain injury.

I accentuate the positive; I talk about how being alive and having to deal with the laundry list of problems I face daily is a damn sight better than the alternative, which is being dead, which I so nearly was. But sometimes, that laundry list of problems rears its ugly head – and that’s what’s happened this month.

I take 15 tablets every day, from those designed to prevent epileptic fits, to those designed to thin my blood and prevent clots which can cause strokes, to statins which I have to take as a result of the stroke, to various supplements.

They all come with various different side-effects – some trivial, some less so and some which I really wouldn’t want to trouble you with if you are reading this over your breakfast cereal. I’ve learnt to live with and regulate a lot of them but by far the most difficult to live with are the blood-thinners. They can lead to nose-bleeds lasting up to 30 minutes; they mean using a hand-razor can be a daily challenge because if I nick myself…..

This month, I discovered another challenge. I had just finished a Zoom call when I spotted blood on the back of my left leg. “Where’s that come from?” I thought. Within seconds, I had no time to think any further about that as I realised that blood was oozing from somewhere on my lower leg.

I ran to the bathroom and grabbed a length of toilet roll. Then another. Then another. I called Mrs Warrior, a trained phlebotomist who knows how to deal with unexpected flows of blood.

She found the bag of bandages and plasters we keep for such occasions and applied a plaster the size of my hand to the area from which the blood was coming. And it kept coming – for six hours. Plasters and bandages of all shapes and sizes failed to stem the flow and before we went to bed, she wrapped my leg from knee to ankle in a special bandage.

We woke up to ruined bedsheets. With my GP surgery closed because of a Covid outbreak, we were directed to the Minor Injuries Unit of my local hospital, where the bandage was applied with several plasters.

It stopped the flow of blood but I had to wear it for 72 hours. We still don’t know what started the flow of blood although it’s possible an errant toenail might be responsible.

It was not a nice experience and it was certainly one I don’t want to repeat any time soon. But the thing I have to remember is that these tablets are keeping me alive, they are reducing the risk of another stroke. Would I rather be alive and taking these tablets with all their challenges or do I face up to the alternative? No contest, is it?

BusinessWorks Wocestershire & Black Country spring 2022 | BusinessWorks Magazine

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