People with Aphasia

Find out how Aphasia has affected peoples lives by reading their stories

Lesley Birch attends the Walton group.
Here she tells the story of events leading to her stroke in 2011.

picture of lesley Birch

Leslie's Fight Back to Health
In 1996, my husband, Maurice, had a five-graft heart bypass operation. In 2008 I fought and beat breast cancer. In February 2011 Maurice was told that he had 50%+ heart failure and had 6– 24 months to live. Fortunately we found a heart surgeon willing to try to extend his lifespan by bypassing a couple of his arteries for a second time. Whilst caring for him after his operation I was found to be suffering from atrial fibrillation. One consultant said it could be dealt with by putting me to sleep and stopping then restarting the heart; another recommended prescribing Warfarin to thin my blood.

Before a decision could be made I suffered a stroke caused by blood collecting in the atrium, clotting and going to my brain. The stroke left me unable to speak or walk.

The love and time spent with me by my husband, my four beautiful daughters, my eight gorgeous grandchildren and the odd son-in-law helped my brain to build new pathways to speech and mobility. I am one of the very lucky dysphasia sufferers as my loss of language amounts only to having lost thousands of words and slurring as though I was drunk when I get over-tired. My personality has also changed somewhat. I’m told that I’m more childlike. I know I lack the enormous tact I used to have and my short-term memory is non-existent.
I also have weakness down my right side that probably won’t improve much more. Yet if you were to meet me you would never know I have suffered a severe stroke. It has been a hard, often frustrating but nevertheless a fascinating journey seeing how my brain has been able slowly to recover.

Check the TALK website to see the work done by volunteers who help us recoverers. They are awesome! Attending the group has also helped me put into perspective my silly, irrational yet huge fear of leaving my home in case I have another stroke. I have been out socially a few times. This is still a massive fear I’m fighting to conquer. I can no longer read books, which had always been a favourite pastime of mine. I can just about manage short stories in magazines. I can’t remember more than a couple of pages of text. At the group I’ve been amazed watching one recoverer who can’t speak at all and has difficulty writing, but is able to draw beautiful pictures; another who can’t talk or walk but can sing songs. For carers it’s a well-earned couple of hours’ break that they get to spend on themselves knowing that the recoverer is well looked after.”