Lisa Smyth: After-care for my husband largely non-existent
My husband was 36 years old when he had a stroke. Thanks to the expertise of a nurse in the GP out-of-hours service, he received clot-busting thrombolysis treatment within an hour of first showing signs of his illness.
For that we will forever be grateful, as it minimised the damage to his brain - and yet the services since he left hospital have been largely non-existent.
He was discharged home a few days after his stroke, his eyesight and balance badly affected. There were days when he slept for 20-hours straight; other days he could barely manage to walk and his vision was constantly blurred.
He was continuing to experience mini-strokes as a result of a hole in his heart and he needed a procedure to fix this.
This only happened after we paid for a private hospital appointment, and we have since been told this prevented him from suffering a catastrophic and potentially deadly stroke.
The findings of the Stroke Association report come as no surprise, as the overwhelming feeling throughout our journey has been one of abandonment.
Stroke is hugely traumatic for everyone involved and I always found it difficult to understand how a man in his 30s with a young family and a job was sent home with only a handful of leaflets for advice. We were left to source most of my husband's care after he left hospital, while I received no support at all in my role as carer.
Most people look at my husband now and are totally oblivious to the fact he has suffered a stroke, but, four years on, he still lives with the effects of his brain injury.
We know how lucky we are - we know things could have been so, so much worse. But, at the same time, our experience has been much more difficult than it should have been.