BEFORE YOU START: Please note that although I currently volunteer for both the Stroke Association and Age UK, the views expressed in this blog are strictly my own. I am not a spokesperson for either (or, indeed, for any) organisation, and I accept complete responsibility for the views expressed herein. As indicated by the domain name, I am based in the UK and the blog therefore has a UK bias - I've tried to use the Glossary to explain any ambiguous terms, but if you think there is anything I've missed, please message me.

Wednesday, 31 January 2018


I was looking at Facebook yesterday. Last night, there was a documentary on C4 about a stroke survivor, so on the C4 News feed, they advertised the program. There were lots of comments about how this woman is inspirational or courageous. One comment even said she was lucky - I can understand this in the context that even despite her injuries, it could have all been worse. But thinking of this woman getting up every morning, looking at herself in the mirror, and telling herself how lucky she is, is all quite unbelievable. Literally....I cannot believe that it happens.

I remember the only time since the stroke that I was told I was "lucky" - it was by an aphasia-sufferer who hadn't yet seen my disabilities, but it made me laugh. And after all, maybe from her perspective I am? Being unable to communicate as effectively as you once could must be horrible. As we talked, and she subsequently found about the physical limitations, the reaction changed from lucky to "poor you".

But at the risk of being non-PC, I'm not sure that inspirational or courageous are the right words. As a survivor myself, I'm not sure it particularly takes courage to get up in the morning - it's a necessity in order to do what we have to do that day. If we didn't do that, we'd end up just shrivelling up in bed. I don't think it's courageous, particularly, to do what everyone else does, to want to get on and live our lives as best we can. Don't get me wrong, I'm really happy that this woman is picking the pieces of her life back up (including making documentaries), I'm really pleased that someone like Andy Marr has been able to resume his career fronting possibly the best current affairs show on UK tv, but is it really anything above-and-beyond what any of us would do? And if someone wants to feel inspired by that, good luck to them. But I really think it is something that we would all do if we were thrust into this situation. I think we're all surprisingly resilient, we'd even surprise ourselves.

You know, even in terms of what we actually do in life, when I think of what I do (I have no idea whether this girl does anything in terms of raising awareness of stroke), all it really is is chatting to people. It's not rocket science (although actually my first job outside of university was as a rocket scientist 😊) But, really, anyone could do it. Sure, I can talk from the perspective of having been through that experience, so I do recognise that there might be some added-value in me going along as opposed to Joe Bloggs who has no experience of strokes. But really, it's not as if nobody else could do a satisfactory job.

I get similarly blasé about charities giving out awards for things like "inspiration of the year" - isn't it just what any of us would do? First and foremost, we're all human beings. And arguably we are pre-programmed to help each other out? I can maybe see this from another perspective, that of generating good PR for the charity - but to me that all seems a little fake newsy, you know, generating a story out of something which is not really newsworthy. It's a bit like when the BBC reports on the BBC (as it does quite regularly).

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