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Stories behind Words: stroke

Stories behind Words: strokeThere is one word in the English language that I will never forget. It’s a word that I had heard of, but I didn’t really know what it meant until it affected me personally. Back in 2008, someone who is very dear to me had a stroke.

A stroke is a brain attack. It happens when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off. This can be caused by a blockage (an ischaemic stroke), or a bleed (a haemorrhagic stroke). I thought that a stroke only happened to elderly people, but in fact it is possible to have a stroke at any age. For two months, I spent every day at the hospital. I saw the devastating consequences of what a stroke can do. It can take away your speech, your mobility, your mind, and, yes, your life … For many people, a stroke is fatal.

Luckily my friend survived, but the journey back from the edge of death has been a difficult one. Some people suffer no long-term effects, but for most recovering from a stroke means a long, hard struggle to learn to walk, to speak, to think again. Life is never quite the same after you, or someone close to you, has a stroke. It is a truly shocking event; one that happens in seconds, but affects your life forever afterwards.

There are risk factors, and the internet is full of information about avoiding strokes. I would advise everyone to visit useful websites such as and read up on the subject. Keep an eye on your blood pressure, and if your family has a history of stroke, then take it seriously. We all take good health for granted … until it is snatched away from us.

These days, we volunteer at the local hospital, helping stroke sufferers and their families with information, advice and support. We have raised money for stroke services, participated in focus groups ands conferences, and lobbied Parliament for greater government support. We have learned it’s important to be positive, and to enjoy the things in life you can do – rather than feel bad about the things you can’t.

About Miles Craven
Miles Craven has worked in English language education since 1988, teaching in schools, colleges and universities around the world. He is author or co-author of several best-selling courses for adults, including Reading Keys, English Grammar in Use Extra, Cambridge English Skills, Listening Extra, Q, Pass the TOEIC Test and Breakthrough Plus.

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