'I was just 26 and had my whole life ahead of me' 

Manjit Bains was just 26 when he had a stroke. Determination, support from his family and friends and rehabilitation helped him get his life back 

"'I've had a stroke'. This may be quite a common thing to hear. But not for me. I was just 26 and had my whole life ahead of me. I also worked as a senior staff nurse in a hospital and remember asking the rehabilitation nurse where my emboli, thrombosis or even my haemorrhage was!

"I had heart problems from birth and developed complications as I got older, which led to my stroke. Apparently, I had had a respiratory arrest and ended up in intensive care. But I guess luck was on my side, even though my life changed as a result. I had to battle to overcome a speech problem and gain control of my right hand, but thankfully the rest of me was in working order.

"Depression soon followed. I couldn’t believe that I had suffered a stroke at such a young age, and I suppose I went through a kind of grieving process of anger, bitterness and finally acceptance. Although I was improving every week (my speech was getting clearer and my hand much stronger) I discovered that patience was not one of my strongest points. I was determined to go back to my nursing career and I had to learn to write left-handed.

"With a lot of support from my family and my rehabilitation and occupational health team, I had an assessment at work and was given a staff nurse post on a medical ward. As the years have gone by I've become more confident and my speech and manual dexterity have improved. I’ve also nursed elderly and physically disabled clients.

"This hasn't been a solo journey. I've had a lot of support, including psychologists and counselling. 

"After intensive care I was nursed on a medical ward at the hospital where I had been working. I remember asking my consultant how long it would take for me to get better. I had no idea I had been at death’s door.

"I was walking a lot, and my speech therapist assessed my swallowing ability and said I could have soft food. My hand was slowly improving but still weak, and I couldn’t comb my hair or tie it up – thankfully hair bands had come into fashion! My colleague from work tied my shoelaces for me, but I was determined to get back to normal.

"I was finally discharged from hospital and referred to a rehabilitation team. For one week I was assessed on my ability to cope with daily activities. At home I started to practise manual dexterity skills, from opening cans to striking matches. My speech was improving, my slur had completely gone, and all the while I had fantastic support from my extended family.

"Eventually, I began attending the rehabilitation centre on an outpatient basis. And every day I get stronger and stronger."

Page last reviewed: 08/09/2014

Next review due: 08/09/2016