In 1978 my Grandma had a stroke. I was 17 at the time and of course knew little about stroke. Mum had been a nurse and between us, Mum and my three older brothers, we tried to take care of her as best we could. It must have been a big stroke; she couldn’t sit on her own, never mind stand. I think we managed for about two months, but after that she deteriorated and died soon after. She was 86, so perhaps not a big surprise, though of course a shock.
I hope it helps you to know that our staff have shared your experiences of caring for a relative in the home.
At that point I’d already chosen my career and started college two years later, qualifying in 1983. I had always imagined going into sport physiotherapy: I was and still am a keen sports person. But then in my first job in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, I met Maureen, who was the Senior in the Stroke Unit. She is one of the kindest people I ever met, and was so passionate and enthusiastic about her work.
Most of the colleagues I had worked with thus far had had little to say about the prospects for people with strokes. But Maureen sowed a seed in me and it has become my life’s work. If you read this Maureen, thank you, from the bottom of my heart.
Of course I completed my rotations as a junior in the hospital, but had my first real chance to specialise in 1987. Since then I have worked continuously in the field of rehabilitation for adults with neurological and post neuro-surgical problems.
Having read some information about the work of Physiotherapists when I was at school I decided that this was the career for me. Of course, at that time, I did not know the varied scope of the job. I undertook as much work experience as I could, thoroughly enjoying it all. I trained at the University of the West of England, qualifying 10 years ago.
During my training I started to gain interest in the area of Neurology, an area which I had been unaware of before starting my course. This sowed a seed in me and I took any opportunity I could to expand my knowledge in this area. A particularly significant placement was at the beginning of my final year when I spent time working with a variety of neurological outpatients including Multiple Sclerosis, Stroke and Cerebral Palsy. The wonderful people I worked with during that time inspired me to seek a career in this field.
Once I qualified I worked at the world renowned Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Aylesbury. I completed all my rotations, learning many skills along the way. The most profound of these was my time spent working in the National Spinal Injuries Centre working with Spinal Cord Injuries. The sense of satisfaction and enjoyment was immense, helping paralysed individuals to find their feet again, so to speak, and show them that they were still able to lead an active and fulfilling life.
I spent six years working in a special needs school working with a variety of different conditions. From this time I have become very practiced at wheelchair and seating provision, something which I have a great affinity for, I think it’s my love of Physics!
Along the way I have met many patients and some inspiring individuals that stick in my mind and inspire me to continue to work in this field. It is for the achievements and goals that my patients realise that I work for. With my work I aim to assist those I work with to achieve all they can. It is a feeling like no other knowing that you have improved someone’s quality of life.