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A Stroke of Luck - Chapter 1 Ian Thorpe Ian Thorpe's memoir of his remarkable revovery from a massive Brain Haemorrhage is a must read for Stroke Survivors, their relatives and those who care for people whose lives have been derailed by stroke or brain injury, probably the most devastating of all health failures. In this book, free to read online or download in a printable version, somebody who has been through the process shares his experience. Honest, hilarious, often funny because as the author will tell you a sense of humour is the most important item in the survivors toolkit.
Copyright © 1997 - 2007, Ian R. Thorpe
Request to reproduce in whole or in part should be e-mailed to Greenteeth Multi Media Productions


1 - Why Not Me
2 - Hospital
3 - The Surge of Recovery
4 - Standing Around
5 - On The Move
6 - Rehabilitation
7 -In My Room
8 - Progress
9 - Home Leave
10 - All You Need Is Love
11 - Miracles Take Longer
12 - Superman
13 - All a Conn
14 - Steps
15 - Discharged
16 - The Woman Within
17 - No Surrender
18 - Going it Alone
19 - Last Chapter

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For a long time after my haemorrhage I concentrated on writing fiction and despite being encouraged (bullied?) by several care workers to write about the recovery process I was adamant that it would never happen. The Senior Sister in the rehabilitation unit (who became a dear friend) used to say if she could put my attitude in bottles to be injected into other people the success rate for rehab. would be a lot higher. If whatever had helped me come to terms with my sudden disability and make such a determined effort to recover I would have been putting it in bottles and selling it on the Internet, I told her. Then one of the Community Nurses who visited me told me the story of a man of similar age and background to myself who had similar problems but had not been so severely physically affected. This person however had not been able to find the will to fight back and fell into deep despair, declaring that his life was over and there was nothing left to look forward to. The nurse wished she could introduce me to him and let us talk for a while but to do so would have contravened medical procedures. When an attractive woman lays this kind of guilt on me it usually works (OK, I'm shallow I know) which is probably why nurses are so good at it. After being told by carers that other people may benefit from knowing that they were not alone in experiencing emotional crises as a result of a life changing illness, the resolve that arose from my dislike of biographical writing has been eroded.

The book has been written not for personal gain but to encourage others who might find themselves in a similar situation, their families and friends and anybody who takes up the task of supporting a survivor of brain injury through the most difficult times imaginable. The reputation of brian injuries and their consequences is terrifying yet the long term outcome may be very different from level of debility that popular opinion suggests is inevitable.

Readers should be aware this is a memoir rather than an autobiography, the intention being to try and convey my emotional state and how the crises were dealt with rather than give a day to day account of my recovery. The events and conversations described did happen more or less as I remember them but, not being the kind of writer who would ever sacrifice a joke for the sake of truth I have taken a few liberties to enhance the entertainment value and by - pass lots of tedious detail.

A Stroke of Luck is not a manual for recovery or a "how to do it" book. If anybody reading this is trying to come to terms with the effects of a brain injury the only pieces of advice I can honestly give are: never give up, never lose your sense of humour and never ever surrender to the tyranny of conventional wisdom.

Other books written on the subject have been commercial ventures and in my opinion tended to stick closely to the attitudes recommended by conventional medicine. One thing I have always found rather irritating is that one is constantly told to be "positive." This word is used so often it becomes a cliché. Set yourself goals but do not become despondent if you fail to achieve them. Accepting your problems, coming to terms with them and refusing to let the mental or physical effects of your stroke define your life is the trick you have to pull off. What is being "positive?" I can be very loud, energetic and inyaface; is somebody whose nature is to be quiet and passive necessarily any less determined to overcome their problems. Also readers should not be misled by the humourous, upbeat tone. I have written this at some distance, the book having been written about three years three years after my stroke but the jokey style reflects my attitude through the first months. My refusal to remove the humour did cost me a UK publishing deal but as I said, money was never my objective. A version with some necessary changes was published in the U.S.A. but the publisher has now gone out of business so copyright reverts to me and I have chosen to make A Stroke Of Luck available free online.

(The book will be available to buy later in the year as I need a few books to kickstart the print media caralogue of my Greenteeth Multi Media venture.)


Having said all that I hope what is written may give encouragement but would never presume to think myself capable of providing a set of tools with which to build your new life. All I can wish for is that in reading of my difficulties and how they were overcome (or worked around) you might gain inspiration. If I make you laugh as well that will be a bonus.

One suggestion made to me by a medical professional was that simple language should be used because "stroke patients are easily confused and will have difficulty in understanding." EXCUSE ME - HELLLOOOO. Wake up and smell the coffee guys. Those ideas are twenty years out of date. We make have difficulty with memory, with expressing ourselves or with physical speech defects but brain damage does not mean we are morons. Most strokes and brain injuries do not affect the intellect, we are still the same people. The language and style therefore reflect the way in which I write fiction, (except that the expletives are omitted) to offer you anything less than my best would be an insult.

By all means try some of the things I did if you think they will help. A flippant approach ("Iím not going to take this thing seriously, its only a stroke.") seems to have worked for other people as well as myself. Humour is the most important tool in the whole kit. But remember, we are all individuals and in each case the methods we will find successful are going to be very personal. If you find something that you believe is doing you good (and it doesnít hurt too much) stick with it.

There are no magic cures, no rules and nobody is marking your progress. It is not obligatory to fight back from a stroke and take part in the London Marathon though some people have. I know of one young woman who had a brain haemorrhage at twenty three. Later when she married she told doctors of her intention to start a family and was told not to be stupid. A couple of years later she had twins. They will be six or seven years old now. But there are no fixed targets or goals. To achieve a quality of life that brings you happiness and contentment is to succeed.

Good Luck.

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