To have this happen to you is just...

Well, it's totally shocking.

Bang! That knocked me out.

It didn't make me unconscious, but it knocked out my leg and arm.

It's life-shattering, really.

You think, "Oh, no! What am I going to do with my life now?"

Whatever the origin of your stroke,

whether it's a bleed or blockage, you can have a huge variety of effects

that can disappear very quickly or can last for the rest of your life.

Some people have got very marked paralysis down their face, arm and leg.

Some people have no speech and no ability to understand speech.

Some people have lost their vision.

Some people have problems with their memory, their concentration,

their ability to order things in their life.

It's very hard to know in the early days which you're going to be.

Is this a few weeks of recovery, is it a few months, is it a few years?

Is it the whole of your life?

I had a blood clot in the left-hand side of the brain

which affects the right side of your body.

And it basically shuts down everything

as far as the electrical impulses that generate your movement...

Well, everything. I couldn't do it. That was it. I was a one-sided person.

It turns your life upside down. That's what it does.

If it's a bad stroke, it can wreck your life, I reckon.

I'm comparatively lucky. I'm beginning to start to move a bit.

My wife as I said was in the flat at the time, which was good.

She immediately phoned the GP who said, "Don't waste time."

"This sounds something serious."

"It sounds very much like he's having a stroke."

"Don't come and see me. Go straight to the hospital."

The key to stroke recovery

is to get the right people with the right patient early.

Admission to a stroke unit

undoubtedly gives you a better chance of recovering from your stroke.

You have specialist medical attention, specialist nursing,

specialist therapists able to work with you right from the beginning

and not waiting for a few days or a week to start doing that.

The earlier you can get in there, the better for stroke recovery.

I had a scan within 24 hours

so they could ascertain what type of stroke, what damage it had done,...

..and immediately started the procedure about recovery.

From within a few hours of the stroke happening often,

people can come to the acute stroke unit.

That also means we can deliver thrombolysis,

which is a clot-busting treatment.

For some patients, it can help reduce the stroke size and disability.

That principally, the speed at which things started to happen,

was really helpful in me getting to this situation now.

The physios would start to see them here if they needed it.

The speech and language therapist would begin their treatment in here as well.

Very early specialist assessment is the key.

I found that talking to the nurses and doctors certainly benefited me

and helped me understand what was going on.

I think the real emphasis here is the physiotherapists. They're crucial to me.

They're going to teach me to walk again

and they'll get my arm moving again which is flopping about like a fish.

It's quite useless.

I put my faith in them. Whatever they say is what I'll do.

They didn't pull any punches.

They laid it on the line to you that there might not be any recovery at all.

The type of therapy you get depends on a number of things.

The type of problems you have from your stroke

and the likely impact that'll have when you leave hospital.

I was told I'd never walk again.

So I had a good physiotherapist

and I was determined I was going to get out of that wheelchair

which I did.

Physios usually get labelled as the prime people

for getting people up and moving again.

So many people start off with some problems...

- Yes? - Yes.

..that they never, ever expected to have.

A significant amount of people being able to start to reuse their muscles

if they're able to,

learn how to do things slightly differently if they need to.

It's about getting back moving again.

It's also about knowing that you can.

The speech and language therapist looks at both communication problems,

so your ability to speak and communicate what you want, and your swallowing.

My face had dropped.

Speech. I've been able to retain a certain amount of speech,

but it took me a long time to get there.

It was the occupational therapist at the hospital

that suggested I went to a resource centre

and where I learnt, or continued to do, skills

that I had done previously.

The occupational therapist gets involved

in terms of your ability to function in daily life.

So whether it's getting washed and dressed,

cooking, shopping, managing outdoor transport, that type of thing.

So really putting the level of function you have into your daily life.

We'll find out a lot about what interests you

and how they can help you return to some of that.

After five months in hospital,

I cried on the day that they said I could be discharged

because I didn't want to go home

and sit in front of the television becoming a cabbage.

I think going home is a huge shock.

I think it's very hard to prepare people for that.

But good planning for transfer of care from hospital to home

involving you as the person who's had the stroke and your family, friends,

is really critical.

What we're trying to get at

is the whole idea of what's called early supported discharge.

The point at which we will think about patients going home

is that point at which equivalent levels of therapy and care

can be provided at home.

Then we know that you're better probably at home.

Patients prefer it.

Once they offered me the chance,

and they wanted to see if I could manage at home,

and I went home with a couple of the carers at the hospital

and I got in my front door, I wasn't going back.

You can practise with your own stairs, your own bathroom, your own taps.

All those little things that we can't create in hospital.

I think it's really important to think about care and support after stroke

being all the time two parallel streams.

One for the person who's had the stroke

and one for whoever the carer is, the partner, the family.

My partner was working and trying to cook and look after me,

even having to give me a bath,

whereas when I found a carer, that was something that was taken off him.

One thing that people who look after people who've had strokes find

is really important is actually getting some respite from caring.

One way to do that is to get planned short breaks

and having things like easy access to laundry services, continence services,

getting good financial advice about benefits

so that you maximise the potential for somebody to stay at home.

The need to be doing something, to be occupied,

to force myself to walk up and down the stairs every day

wasn't doing it any more.

After a time, I could walk up and down the stairs,

or efficiently walk up and down the stairs.

I needed something else.

Only doing my job, I think, satisfied that need.

It just took some of the edge off what was wrong with my body.

Getting back to work is a considerable challenge.

It depends hugely on the range of disabilities that you're left with.

It was really important to get back to work. Really.

And it was a gradual process.

It was a couple of days a week, then we upped it to three days,

then upped it to four days. I'm back full time now.

Through all the emotions and frustration,

you have to keep on trying.

Don't give up. Life will get better.

It will be a longer road than you probably expect it to be.

But it will get better.

I hope I'll walk out of here. That's what I'd like to do.

Every day's a challenge now,

whereas before, you'd do so many things automatically.

I hope that I'll be able to go home and walk around my garden

and all that sort of stuff.

Every bit you get back is a bonus,

but this is a really major injury that you've done to your body.

I am determined that I will go on. I'm a fighter.