I am a patient representative for the Research and Improvement patient and public involvement group, 'Side-by-Side'. Outside of this, I help run the Southampton branch of Different Strokes - a charity specifically aimed at the younger stroke survivor of working age. As a charity we promote independent stroke recovery and help those younger stroke survivors reclaim their lives.
How COVID-19 has affected my daily life as a stroke survivor
My name is Jo Elliott and I am stroke survivor, wife and mum of three. Before the Coronavirus pandemic, I lived a busy life, making sure that I planned my week in order to manage my neuro fatigue. Having a routine and pacing myself was key to balancing volunteering commitments, social engagements and family life.
The current lockdown has completely thrown my routine on its head, however, I am now adjusting to the ‘new normal’ of having to be at home all the time; something I previously tried to avoid. In order to protect my mental well-being, every evening I find it helps me to write a list of tasks I would like to achieve the following day. This helps keep me motivated ensuring I have some structure and purpose to each day, but also enjoy planned down time too.
As a Side-by-Side member, we are having to have to shift our activities from face-to-face, to online in order to ensure we continue to increase engagement during this pandemic. Whilst I haven’t been able to attend conferences, presentations or visit new stroke survivors in hospital as a group coordinator for Different Strokes Southampton, lockdown has given me the time to tackle some of the meatier admin tasks, some of which were long overdue! We have changed our bi-weekly meetings to weekly video calls and I try to keep in touch with those who would rather be supported via email on a weekly basis too, hopefully ensuring no one is left feeling too isolated.
As a result of the pandemic, my family are all working or studying from home so we are spending more quality time together. Daily exercise from home has enabled me to discover the beauty of my local area and just how many different walks I can do from my own doorstep.
Who would have thought we would enjoy queuing for food but shopping is now a focus for the week - buying for parents that are shielding too. I’m really enjoying keeping in contact with friends and extended family through video calls with either a cup of coffee or a glass of wine depending on the time of day!
Getting used to this ‘new normal’ has taken a while to adjust to and we don’t know what the future holds but hopefully I can continue taking it one day at a time, enjoying the company of family and friends even if some of that is now virtual!