Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Different stroke

Congruent experience

Not for the first time on these pages am I forced to remark how two of a kind come along together. I posted the most recent item on Conductive Education World, on the story of Jill Bolte Taylor’s experience of her stroke, and walked across to the Library. Asa soon as I arrived Gill Maguire told me of another such experience, described only yesterday in an extensive article in the weekly heath pages of the Daily Mail.

Martin Stephen who wrote this vivid account is High Master of St Paul’s School. The nature and circumstances of his stroke were different from those of Jill Bolte Taylor’s but there are features in common within the two experinces. Read his newspaper article for yourself and make your own comparisons at:

More about Martin Stephen

Martin Stephen has a distinguished career in education and is also a historian and thriller-writer – Google him for further details. His next book, to be published on 2 June, will be very different in content from everything that he has done before.

Book of the stroke: The diary of a stroke

Amazon’s synopsis

Martin Stephen was in a high-profile job and at the peak of his career when without warning he found himself in a hospital bed unable to walk, see properly or write, and devoid of feeling down one side of his body. One of thousands of people who every year suffer a stroke, an accident of family history presented to him with a way of curing himself. The diary of a stroke is the personal story of one man’s battle to make a full recovery from a crippling illness, but also a unique insight into the mind of a patient and a condemnation of some of the practices of the National Health Service. A leading consultant has suggested it should be required reading for every doctor in the country. In the words of the author, it was written in anger for the thousands of people who might have made a full recovery from a stroke, but failed to do so.

Martin Stephen's Diary of a stroke is one of the first books to give a blow-by-blow account of what having a stroke means. He describes how he suffered and how he was treated. Like most patients he was put on a general ward rather than on a specialised stroke unit. But specialised units save lives and help people recover more of their old selves. Forget the high-skill, high-tech medicine we love on House and Casualty. Martin Stephen was put on a ward which was dirty, where the nurses were not very motivated and therapy was something you might get next week. Hope was not much in evidence. He describes his physical and emotional battles to survive with insight and feeling. He charts how his personality changed - and he pays tribute to his wife and sons. Without them it would have been bleak, bleak, bleak. This is a moving and important book. Martin Stephen is an accomplished writer - author of some best selling thrillers - but he has never before written such a personal book.

Yet another reminder of how much the mega-buck world of stroke treatment and rehabilitation has to learn from Conductive Education

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