It’s testament to Peter Brown’s positive outlook that he has managed to reduce the amount of support he requires from Headway Suffolk over several years.
Peter, who has two grown-up daughters, was a hard-working family man when he suffered a life-changing stroke in March 2012 at the age of 54.
He remembers: “I was sitting watching TV and I had the headache from hell. The next thing I knew I was throwing up violently. I then passed out and woke up in Addenbrooke’s, where I was told that I had had a stroke.”
Peter, 62, from Bury St Edmunds, spent three weeks in Addenbrooke’s before beginning his rehab at Livability Icanho and then on to Headway Suffolk.
Peter worked a number of jobs, including working on the railways, and spent six years in the RAF, where he was a safety and survival equipment fitter, making a host of items, such as ejection seats, lifejackets and anti-g-suits. His final station was at RAF Honington.
He said: “I had to give up work. When you’re filling in job forms and say you have had a stroke and have memory problems at this age, they go ‘next. Give us a young man we can mould.’
“And then my marriage ended. It felt like my world had fallen apart. I had to adjust to a new life.”
Whilst Peter’s ability to walk and talk remained unaffected, it was the impact on his short-term memory that had the most profound impact on his day to day life and where Headway Suffolk came in to help.
Originally, Peter had three visits a day from Headway Suffolk’s community staff to support him to live independently at home. But now that’s down to just one.
Staff use prompting techniques and Peter uses his diary to remind himself of daily tasks, such as what shopping he needs, when to hoover, which meals to eat, what clothes to wash, what bills he needs to pay, etc.
He said: “I keep a diary and the notes and reminders are really helpful. I’m on top of things.
“Occasionally I write certain things on my arm because, by the grace of God, you won’t lose your arm. Although if you forget and you’ve got a sweaty forehead, you rub it off!”
Peter enjoys walking and reading, as well as doing puzzles and crosswords – activities that help to keep his brain stimulated and healthy.
He added: “I really appreciate what Headway do. The support of the staff is brilliant. It’s not until you have an injury or a problem that you realise there is support like Headway out there.
“You’ve always got to have a positive outlook and do your best. I’ve still got my mobility, which could have gone if I had had my stroke in the wrong place or it had gone on for longer.”
* the images were taken pre-Covid