West Sussex Gazette

Stroke survivor says target to walk dog again gave him hope

Cockapoo Ralph key to owner’s recovery from illness

- Sarah Page ws.letters@jpimedia.co.uk

Astrokesur­vivorhasto­ldhowhis dogcametoh­isrescueas­hetried to rebuild his life.

Jason Parker was struggling to cope following his illness when his pet, Ralph, gave him a moment of hope.

It came as Jason was able to walkthethr­ee-year-oldcockapo­o again for the first time.

It marked a marvellous milestonef­orJasononh­isroadto recoveryaf­terthestro­ke–ableed thesizeofa­tennisball­inhisbrain – happened while he was raking leaves in the garden of his home in Bolney in December 2019.

“Ifeltsudde­nlytired,thinking I needed a break,” said Jason.

“I then noticed that I couldn’t tell my left leg to kick a football. I then fell over and realised I couldn’t use my left arm either.

“My throat was tightening. I had to crawl with one arm back up to the house to call for help. My wife Victoria is a doctor and realised it was a stroke.”

He was taken by ambulance to Royal Sussex County Hospital and given a brain scan.

“I had a bleed the size of a tennis ball in my brain. I couldn’t sit, stand, walk, hug,” Jason said.

It took two weeks before doctors were able to see on a CT scanthatth­ebleedwasc­ausedby anarterial­venousmalf­ormation or AVM, a naturally occurring angleofblo­odvesselsi­nthebrain, which had burst.

Jason shared his story to support the Stroke Associatio­n’s Hope After Stroke campaign, highlighti­ng the difficulti­es stroke survivors can face and moments that can give them optimism in their recovery.

“My hope after stroke was being able to walk Ralph and feel thatIwasab­letodonorm­althings againsucha­sridingmyb­ike,”said Jason.

“My first time out on a bike was only to get the paper but it felt good to feel the wind on my faceagain.Iwas45when­Ihadmy stroke,soitcanhap­penatanyag­e and to anyone who is healthy.

“I would like people to understand how difficult the mental side is, what fatigue – rather than tiredness – actually is and how you can make rapid progress with determinat­ion and the right support. The care in hospital was excellent, however once I was in the community it was very difficult to access. I was almost left to myself, unable to walk. My mental health was awful, but mostly ignored. I had to fund rehab physio myself and arrange for counsellin­g. “

After three months in hospital, Jason returned home to recover with his wife Victoria and children Annabel, George and Scarlett.

Afurtherfo­urmonthsla­terhe was able to make a staged return to work as healthcare partner at KPMG, where he has now been full time for a year.

“It’s strange to think I will always have a cavity inside my brain, and that such a small blood vessel can cause so much damage,” said Jason.

 ?? ?? Jason Parker with Ralph
Jason Parker with Ralph

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