What do I say to friend who's just had a stroke?

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Hi all, looking for advice - I'm visiting a close friend tomorrow who suffered a stroke last week (early 50s). She has emailed me but her words are jumbled and she says her speech and leg is badly affected. She is scared and feels trapped inside her body. I don't know much about stroke. Will she be able to understand me? What are the best things to say/do or not say? Any advice appreciated. Thank you.

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  • Posted

    Hi Ruthie, sorry to hear about your friend’s stroke, my husband had a stroke Xmas 2015 and initially it does all seem pretty awful.  I can assure you that she will understand you but depending on the type of stroke, no two people are the same, one side of the body can be affected including eyes, mouth etc.  

    With good physiotherapy which needs to start as soon as she’s stable and on drugs to help her, she will improve unless it’s very severe.  My husband couldn’t walk properly or use his left arm and hand and now two years later, apart from a slight speech alteration and a weaker left leg, it’s hardly noticeable that he’s had a stroke.

    Let us know how she gets on and treat her just as before.  She will be frustrated as she has possibly to learn to do some things again but talk to her physiotherapist or nurse as to what could help and keep us posted.

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  • Posted

    Bless both of you!

    Your friend will be terrified and worried about the future.................... will things improve, will she work, drive a car, go for a walk etc.?

    You are worried about what to say & do............................it is an unknown, will she look ok?

    ?My advice is to be a good friend, be thrilled to see her, reassure her and take the lead from her about the stroke. Hold her hand, give loads of eye contact, smiles and positive vibes!

    If she still has aphasia, perhaps she can write stuff down?

    ?I have just passed the 3rd anniversary of my own stroke  and luckily have made a nearly full recovery. What I wanted from my nearest and dearest was to know that they still loved me even although parts of my body wouldn't work and I had become dependant on others to help.

    ?Good luck tomorrow, relax and continue to be her close friend.

    Aneta x


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  • Posted

    Hi Ruthie, did you email her back? if so then she is probably able to understand you, it may be difficult for you to understand what she is saying to you, my ex husband and good friend had a stroke 6 months ago and his speech is still a bit jumbled but if he speaks slowly things sound better, this will have been explained to her while she was/is having speech therapy be patient and if it's too difficult ask if she would be more comfortable writing things down, though the more stroke patients try to speak the better it is for them, treat her as you normally would, she is the same person, I take the mickie out of my ex but then I have known him for over 40 years and I know he has a good sense of humour and it's that humour that is helping him.

    Just be there for her she will need all the support her friends/family can give her.

    I have worked with stroke patients and their frustration is immense, it must be horrid to have these things taken away from you so suddenly, it's a slow old process getting back to normal it can take years sadly but you friend will have support from the local stroke team and they do a great job.


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  • Posted

    Everybody is different. I know when my stroke happened I felt traumatized. And I completely understand the feeling of being trapped in your own body. I didn't have issues with my speech, and I can't begin to imagine that. I think if other ways to communicate can be worked out, such as typing or writing, may help her not to feel so isolated in the beginning. Talking to any family members or those who might have heard a doctor's report can inform you if her cognitive abilities were affected.

    I think just treating her like you always have is important. She has enough to deal with that is different.

     Be the friend you always have been. One of the most important things is to be there for her later on as she gets more adjusted.

    Also be patient. The hardest thing I had to adjust to are my limitations. When I get ready to go somewhere, I have to plan a lot of time.

    In the beginning, it took almost double the time to shower, dress, prepare and eat the proper foods, and extra time to fix my hair, make-up, and I'm still not wearing jewelry.

    I'm also still finding things I can't do. It is still frustrating that I can't do all that I want to do. and It has been 6 months for me.

    In the beginning, it was overwhelming. I'm sure your friend is emotionally still at that place. A stroke that takes away part or a lot of function is a trauma. Listening to her even if she communicates the same thing over and over is so helpful. It's very supportive.

    For me talking helped me to process and accept the changes in my life, as well as realize how fortunate I was to even be here for my children and friends. So hopefully there will be a way to communicate with her.

    I wish you and your friend the best. For me, knowing that therapy would improve my situation really helped to give me hope.

    You didn't mention rehab, but I'm assuming that is where you will visit her. My friends brought me wonderful things to use for self-care, as well as beautiful plants and flowers.

    Let us know how things go and God bless you both.


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  • Posted

    I don't think I have a whole lot to add that people haven't already said. I have had a stroke and a TIA in the past 6 years. I've been very fortunate that the symptoms I experienced during both went away within hours. So I walked away from both without any deficits whatsoever. But I'm telling you this because I want you to give this suggestion to your friend who is struggling with speech. Tell her to try Whispering her words rather than talking out loud. I found this out by accident that my words came out better if I whispered then if I talked normally. And this was when I had my TIA a year ago.

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  • Posted

    Hi ruthie

    Get a physical therapist as soon as possible. Early rehabilitation would mean greater chance of recovery. Time is critical. Tell her to be patient because it is a slow process. Apprropriate medication, diet (low on fat, salt and cholesterol) and daily exercise is inportant to prevent recurrence. It is very frustrating to lose one's function suddenly. So motivate and enrourage her to do rehabilitative exercises. As the saying goes, " use it or lose it." Good luck and God bless!

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