Guest blog post by Peter Ellis [above] who suffered a massive, debilitating stroke in March 2018.

Letting  go

Stroke really brings your mortality to the fore of your mind. Recently I have been thinking about death and about my legacy. How does that make me feel?

It gives me a sense of urgency (and this can be typical for people who have had a stroke as I found out from those in my stroke support group). What do I need to do? Who do I want to see? I have slowed down a bit recently but that urgency continues more quietly inside.

I read somewhere research has shown that a person who has had a stroke caused by a bleed into the brain (and mine was a massive one) has an average life expectancy of 7 years. I am 5 years post my stroke, which means I might have 2 years left.

When I say this to people, I get a response of “Don’t be silly now”. Yes, I am probably being a bit of a drama queen. When I asked one of the stroke consultants how long had I to live she said, “You should get a card from the King”. Now it’s my turn: “Don’t be ridiculous”.

All this means that I have sorted out a lot of papers, cards letters and other memorabilia. I am also visiting London (on my own in my wheelchair) to see people and catch up. I am loving it. It has become rather cathartic

As we all get older we face our own death. Indeed, it is a fact that the moment we are born we are on the trajectory towards our own death whether it is in a few days or 100 years! It is difficult for all of us. I am acutely aware that I am now getting older but despite my relatively early age my stroke has catapulted me into the ‘second stage’ of my life.

I have some long term (40 years) wonderful friends who I knew from my Sheffield days, and one of their four sons and his wife (and son) came to stay with us recently. My mind has been resolved to start giving things (”stuff”) away. Join the queue please, it is very valuable of course!

I gave my record deck (21st birthday present) and records to Jim. It was hard. It was quite painful, I want to give it to him and I know he will appreciate it (it’s retro – it’s 42 years old) and I have known Jim for 40 years. He and his brothers are like my own extended family I want to give “stuff” away to people I love.

Nevertheless, it brings to the fore my mortality, and I am trying to work out how I feel, and what next. It’s very strange place to be in.

Throughout most of my working life I had a special interest in death, dying, loss and grief, and how healthcare staff dealt with it (probably not too well much of the time). Now I am facing that challenge myself. Perhaps the reality is more challenging than working beside it.

I sit in our amazing garden, the church bells are ringing, the sun is glorious the birds are singing loudly. What a treat, life is special and the afterlife, I anticipate, will be the same, and I do believe this to be the case. So, there it is. Now I must go back to living.

Follow Peter’s Stroke Journey