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Nottingham man thanks Stroke service for helping him to talk again

As part of Stroke Awareness Month during May, we’re telling the story of Nigel.

61-year-old Nigel Paynter, from Ruddington, was suddenly unable to walk or talk after he suffered a major stroke in December 2018.  He spent three and half months in hospital recovering from the stroke and at the same time was diagnosed with a defective heart valve and had heart surgery.

Before the stroke, Nigel was an active person, playing tennis, competitive football and riding dirt bikes.  He retired as a textile business owner in South Africa in 2016 and moved to England with his wife, Samantha, three years ago. 

“I don’t remember feeling any different before the stroke,” explains Nigel. “I was tidying up in the house and I just collapsed. My wife came home to find me semi-conscious and unable to talk.  

“The stroke took my speech. I was only able to answer yes and no and I couldn’t form a sentence.  This left me feeling helpless and stupid.  I couldn’t walk anywhere without help, write or process information like I did before. I felt very confused and upset and I wondered if I’d ever get back to being the active person I was.” 

Nigel’s confidence had dropped after the stroke; and the heart surgery, which he underwent shortly after, added to his anxieties.  This had a big impact on his work and family life. 

“I’m unable to play my guitar, which I loved to do, or help my wife with the house chores. I used to volunteer three hours a week at The Friary, a drop-in centre for the homeless and disadvantaged adults, where I made drinks and sorted out donated items.  I’ve had to stop this because of the physical effort of being on my feet for any length of time. I’ve also had to stop my paid work at a car auction as this involved driving and walking and I’ve been advised not to drive for the time being.”

To support Nigel with his recovery, the Trust's Community Stroke Team visit him three times a week at home.  

“Nigel was struggling with his mobility and stamina following his stroke and heart surgery,” explains Assistant Practitioner Sharon Leverton.  “He also had some cognitive difficulties. This was because of a condition common after stroke called ‘apraxia’, a cognitive difficulty that can cause a person to have difficulty performing a motor task, such as shaving or writing, on command.  

“Nigel found simple tasks such as holding a pen and understanding written passages difficult due to his inability to process information so lost interest in his previous hobbies such as reading and cooking.  As a team, we’re working on these areas with structured memory strategies and cognition skills.  We’re also applying processing skills in everyday situations and incorporating outdoor exercises to improve his balance, muscle strength and confidence so he can re-join the social hobbies that he enjoyed prior to his illness.”

Sharon added, “We understand the importance of tailoring a patient’s rehabilitation programme to their individual needs and interests so that they remain actively interested in working with us to achieve their goals.  This gives them back a sense of their identity and control over the situation.”

Nigel says, “My longer term plans are to be able to play my guitar and compose and write my own music again, as well as get back to playing walking football.”  It’s been hard work re-educating myself to speak and walk again but with the support from my wife and the Community Stroke Team, I’m getting there.

“The stroke team have been really supportive.  It was a pleasant surprise to have this service on the NHS because in South Africa we wouldn’t have got this help. I am so grateful that this country takes medical care seriously.”

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