I had a meeting up at the hospital with some of the staff a few weeks ago. The subject was getting a kind of peer group up and running. The kind of stuff I do already (on my own) at my drop-in, but they wanted some more survivors involved, plus current patients. I think the hope was to kind-of bring the peer aspect to the patients.
A nice idea, but I tried to point out that for any stroke survivor there was a need to have a pro-active attitude, so even though the patients might be close physically, it would require a patient with a pro-active nature to benefit. In fact I think if you could do one thing for a stroke survivor, it would be to instill that “never-say-die” attitude in them. First and foremost, you have to want to recover.
For example, in my own case, attending some kind of peer group at the hospital would imply in the first place that I:
- Get myself washed and dressed. OK, this is easy now, but that wasn’t always the case.
- Walk a half mile to my nearest bus stop (work in progress!)
- Catch a bus (the easy part), which involved a one-time application for a bus pass
So I could argue that in order to enjoy the benefits of my peers, I had to be quite determined to overcome these obstacles in the first place. If you don’t see these things as obstacles, that’s great, but be aware that some people do. And not that I’m complaining – after all I could happily spend my Wednesdays sitting on my backside, but I choose to volunteer instead. I was clear from early on that I needed to make myself busy to get a good recovery. I’m just saying that in order to do volunteering, I need to be pro-active to start with. Same with seeing my buddies at the Playhouse – really nice to see them every fortnight, but I need to get myself into Salisbury in the first place. And I just think that a survivor will inevitably face challenges that they must be prepared to overcome. We can have all the support in the world, but I think we have to be prepared to jump in ourselves – it really is sink or swim!
Another thing – I’m not sure if this is typical or whether it is just me – is that I was a good six months out of hospital before I felt able to reach out for support, so it will be interesting how many current patients will be attracted by the venture. But I’m happy to support it in any case, since it is basically what I’m doing anyway.