S1 Ep3: Shelagh Brennand

It took only a matter of minutes for Shelagh Brennand’s brain to be completely rewired, transforming the analytical mind of a police investigator into the creative mind of a poet. Here, Shelagh shares her stroke journey and how she used a positive mindset...

It took only a matter of minutes for Shelagh Brennand’s brain to be completely rewired, transforming the analytical mind of a police investigator into the creative mind of a poet. Here, Shelagh shares her stroke journey and how she used a positive mindset to move through depression and exploring her new limitations to channel her energies into helping others navigate their own journey.

I first met Shelagh Brennand while I was covering the release of the launch of a Vintage Calendar Girls fundraiser a couple of years ago. The initiative was being driven by a Sunshine Coast resident and Shelagh was one of the cover girls for the calendar, being photographed with none other than footy legend Barry Hall.

We stayed in contact over the years and I am to learn more and more about Shelagh’s extraordinary journey and how her brain re-wired itself after she suffered from a stroke.

Hear her incredible story by watching the video, or read on for the video transcript…

Roxanne – Hello everyone. Thank you for joining me today. My name is Roxanne McCarty O’Kane and this is another installment of the Phoenix Phenomenon where we connect with people in the community who have gone through some extraordinary things and come out the other side just absolutely kicking goals. Today I have with me Shelagh Brennand who actually suffered from a stroke in April 2013. So Shelagh will be able to tell you a lot more about her story, but she was a very high-ranking police investigator in the UK and also a private investigator here in Australia. And the stroke really kind of rewired her brain if I can say that and she has now become a completely awesome poet and her book that she authored, A Stroke of Poetry, is doing amazing things for people who have gone through stroke, people of all ages and their families to get a greater understanding of what it means to go through a stroke and what a recovery process might look like. So I’ve been talking enough here’s Shelagh welcome, lovely to have you today.

Shelagh – I thank you, that a lovely introduction, thank you Roxanne.

Roxanne – Not a problem at all, it’s great to have you here. So, I guess that I’ve known Shelagh for a while now. A few years we’ve had our many connections in that time. But, for the reason for those of our viewers who haven’t heard of Shelagh before, can you tell us some, run us through your story and I guess starting with that fateful day in April 2013.

Shelagh – Yes, thank you. I have now, I’ve told it a few times but I think each time I do it probably sounds a little bit different because I’ve become more accepting as the years go on. But yeah it was, I was working as a private investigator, truly said, here on the Sunshine Coast where I’ve lived for the last 10 years. My husband was working away and my son Patrick who was 11 at the time, we’d been gardening at the front of the house, a different home, to the home we’re in now and it was a very hot day. The last day of the school holidays at Easter and Patrick went inside after a couple of hours and I didn’t, I carried on, I mowed the lawns which is something I’d never done before or certainly haven’t done since. Got very hot, went inside to have a drink, shouted up to Patrick and then I went into the toilet because I felt very sick. The downstairs toilet, knelt down on the floor, put my head into the toilet and I don’t remember much after that. What happened was, my understanding about became very hard and the movement of my head into the toilet and the blood flew into my, flew, flooded through my basilar artery into the back of my neck and clotted and then just dissipated. So that’s what happened, I had a clot and when I came to Patrick, was stood in front of me with a glass of water because I must have shouted for one and then, yeah, I couldn’t speak, I could move my mouth but no words came out and I couldn’t move the right side of my body. So very very scary indeed, yeah. That was in a nutshell really.

Roxanne – Do you remember much about what was going through your mind at that time? I mean you’ve mentioned you, it was very scary but you know well all of that to unfold so quickly out of nowhere and do you remember what your thoughts were at that moment in time?

Shelagh – I think, I remember when I thought back, I thought I just fainted, I thought, ooh maybe I needed to drink something, to eat, I got hot, maybe I just fainted and I kept trying to get up and I kept trying to talk and I thought, ooh maybe I’m a little bit thirsty. By the way it somehow felt there was a blockage in my throat and I was talk, trying to talk trying to talk and I just couldn’t remember. And then I don’t even really, I think, I thought about stroke. The only time I had been subjected to stroke I suppose was when my mom had a very severe bleed when she was 50, totally different to me, I know I was only 49. But I just can’t remember because I just felt so ill, felt so sick and I just kept looking at Patrick in bewilderment and he looked at me in panic and yeah. A friend quite unexpectedly came around and between them they rang the triple zero and it was when I got into the ambulance that my friend indeed told them that she knew my mum had had a stroke they phoned David in Roma where he was working away. And they deduced that I had had a stroke because of the symptoms that I was experiencing, which is good, which is what paramedics can do. So they took it serious from word go and that’s where I was blue lighted to a local hospital at Merbau. So yeah I just remember being scared and I do remember thinking, aah, in a bad way, I hope I don’t end up like my mum because my mum was quite severely disabled now. And I’m thinking, please don’t end up like my mum. I know I didn’t perhaps know that it was a mild stroke at the time, I didn’t know the severity of it, I just felt so ill, felt so sick and couldn’t talk. Which is frustrating, anybody who knows me knows a lot of chat Ooh yeah, I just felt, just a really scary out-of-body experience, I think, more than anything.

Roxanne – Absolutely, and how old was Patrick at the time? He was quite young, wasn’t he when this was happening?

Shelagh – He was 11, we’d never discussed the signs of stroke as I do now with lots of kids. I think you know being a bit of a control freak, cause well he didn’t immediately ring tripple zero because he was still thinking it was 9-9-9. I know we’d been here five years and my friend in New Zealand was thinking of 9-1-1. So I think between him, begot which he was looking for me. But I think he was probably waiting for me to give him an instruction.

Roxanne – Yeah.

Shelagh – He didn’t know now. Most certainly is nearly 17 now for goodness sakes.

Roxanne – Yeah.

Shelagh – So yeah it was just scary all around. I remember another friend came then because she drove my first friend Aaron and then Rebecca came with her little girl and I remember seeing people being there and thinking, why they’re here? and Patrick was crying and yeah it was horrible. The whole thing was just horrible, I can still see his face to this day.

Roxanne – Yeah absolutely and so I’m guessing once you were in hospital you know obviously more information comes to light, you start to get a bit of a realization of what it is that you’re facing. Can you tell me, walk me through I guess what your next steps were, what your rehab was like and what you sort of went through before you were able to to come home again?

Shelagh – Yeah, initially at the A&E, by this time my sister who lives out there had traveled up with her husband and I remember distinctly at A&E that a junior stroke doctor was talking to my sister in a little corner away from the bed and I was trying to hear what they were saying and they were talking about me. And that’s one thing you know that I find and I educate people with now obviously will come on to that, is about the fact that just because I couldn’t move and I couldn’t speak, it didn’t mean that I couldn’t understand, that I was asking for pad and pen and trying to write with my left hand. Now if you’re right-handed and tried to write with your left it’s really difficult. So it was all coming out of scrolling but eventually I got them all over to say look, “Tell me what you’re talking about.” And I remember them discussing the dangers of having been given the the thrombolysis, the clot busting drug. And then they called for Rohan Grimly who’s the senior stroke physician and he came down, he said, “I’m not sure what she’s had “because she can still mouth the words “even though they’re not coming out “and now the letters rather.” So anyway I had been necessary scans and that’s when he found the tear in the basilar artery. I always on in hospital a couple of days, from a rehab perspective I had five to six OT speech therapy, physio-dietitians in for the first few days, first two days and then he said, “Look the rest of it is just go home “and Rehab and get moving again.” So I was very slow in my movement and my speech came back after a day but it was very slurred and deliberate. So on the telephone to England obviously people recognize them from there speaking to family and friends in England, I sounded worse than what I looked and that’s a huge thing about stroke. You don’t necessarily have to look like a stroke survivor, you know, to have suffered a stroke. And then I went back a week later cause I couldn’t stop pains in my legs but he told me that it was just fatigue. Fatigue that still is with me now, not as bad unless they overdo it. But yeah so that’s something that every stroke survivor has to manage. So I was very very lucky from that perspective really. Yeah my rehab was good, my rehab was good because I was fit and healthy before my stroke. It really helped me get on but back on track and then I just saw a social worker for that and then I got depression and she helped me through that. So that’s another phase of my stroke recovery.

Roxanne – Yeah, yeah excellent and can you tell me about I guess your journey through depression I mean like you said it’s quite a common step for stroke survivors to go through. How was it I guess, how did it manifest for you and how did you come out the other side?

Shelagh – Yeah it is important to know that and I don’t get embarrassed talking about it. You know its funny as we’re recording this today, it’s Mental Health Week and a bit personal about depression and I thought that you know I’d go over the stroke, got over it from a physical perspective probably a mental perspective. I accepted the my brain wouldn’t be as smart but I thought that would come back in time and within the first three months of flew to England to see my nephew get married, slept a lot, celebrated my 50th, we got our citizenship. So that was in the first three months but when everything died down, the celebration stopped. I then started looking at what I could do and what I could go back to and I accepted that the work I did, I wasn’t snappy again in my brain. So I just felt very sad, I felt like in a way and after describing it to people and have it described to me there’s a bit of a grieving process really. You’ve lost the person you were and I really felt had lost the Shelagh, the identity of Shelagh it wasn’t. I didn’t like that, I didn’t want to lose me, I wanted to carry on as I was, I just didn’t know how to move forward. I really didn’t and telling your husband and son that they’re not enough you know must have been heartbreaking when I think about it and so yeah, it was not a real happy time at all for me and my sister dragged me to the doctors. I got some medication and then those that helped with the tears and staying in bed and then I just moved forward the following year with a personal trainer and learn fitness again and learn mindfulness. I went on a mindfulness, body and mind challenge with my beautiful friend. She is now willing to be English, she’s a trainer here and she just taught me things I’ve never thought about such as focusing on what you can do and I may not be able to be a private investigator but by that time I was writing poetry because my brain would not be working right and I was sharing this on many Facebook Stroke sites with the Stroke Foundation who were the organization, the voice of stroke in Australia and overseas and it was very well received. So she said just do something with it and so a year, 8 months later that I did but I learned that and I learned so just be grateful. I didn’t feel grateful at the time but I soon learned that God I can walk you know, many can’t walk, I can talk, I can, I was climbing, I started running, doing all sorts of things. I never experienced, I just threw myself into my exercising and my porch and I think there were my lifesavers really. Certainly and I was writing a lot of poetry through my depression which is what I call my side poetry. I think maybe I had to help me come to terms with how I was feeling, yeah.

Roxanne – Yeah.

Shelagh – That was a good, it was a good, it was probably the point of my life that I changed. I have to say, which was the February of 2014, yeah. Nearly a year later.

Roxanne – Yeah absolutely and tell me a bit more about you know, you just mentioned the Shelagh that was and now the Shelagh that is. Tell me about I guess your journey of discovery, you know about how your thought processes had changed you know from being able to you know investigate really heavy sort of issues to you know then everything was coming to you in run tell me about that journey for you.

Shelagh – Yeah, initially very frustrating and my social worker, Judy, at the time said to me that, she gave to me an analogy which I think helps a lot of people understand that when you have a stroke and you look at your brain as cabinets and if you have a stroke, depending on the severity, many of the cabinets if not all of them will close. Some may close and others may stay open but new ones may open and some of the closed, I may not explain this very well, some of the closed may never reopen. So for instance of trouble counting, have trouble counting money, doing sums unless I use a calculator. I just have trouble reading numbers as well, long numbers that’s just I mean that’s a minor minor thing. and but what she said was the cabinet of my like poetry I suppose it came out. Instead of finding it frustrating just embrace it cause that’s meant to be. So going back from the Shelagh that was and certainly back in England is a 25-year career police officer you know. It was for long stressful 24/7 work and out here now it’s not Since my stroke and I don’t believe I was stressed when before I had my stroke out here but again you know you don’t know there’s family. 56,000 will have a stroke this year and 1500 people don’t know why and have got no medical illness. So perhaps it was just the heat of the day and one of those things. But I think the Shelagh that now is more grateful, is more tolerance and maybe more appreciative of people and things, we’re all different. And I run a stroke grouping, Caloundra youngster stroke survivors group and we just share experiences. Now I think on the face of it, I’m very lucky that this is all I’ve left with. Yes, I have my own issues of fatigue with what I do, but that’s perhaps poor self-management even though I still suffer from it and yeah, I think I’ve really I loved my job, both jobs but I find this very fulfilling what I do now. And whether I was meant to have my stroke I know that sounds a bit kooky, a bit spiritual I don’t know but I feel so much joy when I share not just my story as a motivational speaker but when I share the strokes message to people you know. I know it’s such a huge important thing to do where you actually saving lives and teaching people how to look after themselves better. So it’s a really rewarding thing to do and I wouldn’t be doing that without my stroke or the support of the Stroke Foundation who helped me through my depression, through the bad times as well as the good now. So yeah maybe a very different Shelagh but as Patrick would say likes me more cause I’m at home more, there you go.

Roxanne -Ooh please, that’s gorgeous.

Shelagh – Yeah.

Roxanne – Yeah excellent And yes, obviously I’m guessing the writing your book or completing your book was the catalyst for then moving on to your speaking engagements and things like that. Is that how it worked for you?

Shelagh – Probably so, yeah. As I said that Melinda recommended Alex Fullerton who was my editor and now a very good friend and it wasn’t till probably 2015 I attended a couple of book workshops and I remember the second one I came home and I said, I rang on the Saturday morning and I said, “Do you think I can do this?” She went “Yeah you sure can.” I said, “Right I’m going to have a book launch on.” I think it was the 10th of November or the 23rd November. She went, “Three months.” Said, “Yeah can you do it by then.” I went well if I don’t do it now never going to do it and I sort of person I am, I’m very girl orientated still. So yeah she helped me immensely with it because he took many pajama days, no dinner on the table days to get through it but I found it, I think very cathartic. Some of the poems had already written, I wrote a few more for the book but even going through the pods, it’s not just putting points in a book and that’s very good you know there was somebody on the workshop, lovely Carol, my friend who suggested mandalas, two-color and when I researched mandalas, they’re really good for depression and people just switching off and I sauce those from a beautiful lady, two ladies. And then I had searched affirmations and it’s not just, you can’t just put some information in the book, you have to find the author of it and yeah it’s actually very, it was very difficult. It really tested my brain and my energy. So there were lots of sleepless days but it was worth it and it yes, it was sort of the launch tour you know this is me now, this is. So I did a lot with my book in the first instance, did library talk, spoke about my book and then I’ve evolved into being a stroke self ambassador nearly two years now and motivational speaker, telling people about my journey. So yeah that’s me.

Roxanne – Sorry.

Shelagh – No, I know I over talked I think I’ve done I’ve just done a talk this morning to a retirement village so and they were just lovely. So I was a little bit late getting back hence why I probably look a bit pink in the face but there was such a lovely audience and the loads so much and I always read some poetry. And that breaks up the seriousness of the stroke. But you know we take the stroke resource they find out there’s lots of resources that people take away you know. The fast F-A-S-T, the signs of stroke, then you know the magnets, that it’s just really good. Yeah to be able to educate people and these are people in the 70s who didn’t even know the signs of stroke you know. These are people and more prone to stroke as you get older you know, about teaching people about the fact it can happen to babies in utero and young children and you know it’s, that’s really important to note too. So yeah I just really love what I do, tired as it is I love what I do, yeah.

Roxanne – Yeah, excellent, that’s great. Anytime I guess some happy you know, you’re obviously well-versed in most things strokes and Stroke now giving all these presentations and being so heavily linked with the Stroke Foundation. Do you want to share I guess or dispel some common myths to people who are watching tonight you know some things that most people might not even think about.

Shelagh – Yeah yeah I mean when I mentioned just a couple of minutes ago about that stroke doesn’t just happen 12 people and 30% of people within Australia are young stroke survivors. So their classes under 65 because they’re of working age and they have a lot more issues than older people because they’re still of working age, they want to find jobs they, need to go back to work, they’re in relationships. So that’s a lot you know many have children and you know that there’s a little group called our bigger group now called a Little Stroke Warrior. So our two beautiful ladies D Banks and Carla Fisher who set up the group because when they have their babies a few years ago, nobody really diagnose them as having a stroke because the limp arms and legs and body was down to cerebral palsy or so they thought. So they are huge educationalist people and they work closely with the Stroke Foundation. So I love raising awareness about that. Another thing is that you don’t have to have a physical disability, to have suffered a stroke and I think that’s I mean at the time I remember a friend asking me three times, “Are you sure they have diagnostic correctly Shelagh? “That you’ve had a stroke.” You know and it’s sort of in here and it’s the emotional side of stroke that is very very overwhelming to many many stroke survivors. Among the community, rehab forum group, at the Sunshine Coast University Hospital and we’ve just done a video to introduce people to the rehab unit and it again the emotional side was covered there because I think I keep, I sometimes feel I’m always banging on about it but I suppose because I’ve suffered it with very little physical and yeah. It’s still there and I’m five and a half years post-stroke and I know people are there many many years after that. So it’s just important that it doesn’t have to present itself physically and it can happen to people who have fit and well. It generally happens to people who have maybe a health issue, but again 1500 people this year won’t know whey they’ve had a stroke. So all I recommend is that you stay fit and well and healthy, lead a healthy lifestyle, exercise daily. So I think it’s a misnomer that it’s an old person’s illness and it certainly is and I’m sure there’s many more myths that just aren’t and coming to mind. They are main ones.

Roxanne – Okay, excellent, that’s great and yeah I guess so where to now for you? What are your next big goals? I actually would love for you to share it with our viewers about your positive plans cause I think that’s a wonderful initiative.

Shelagh – Okay, right, maybe to give you a little bit of background and I hope I do quite regularly on my Facebook page and verbally thank people who have helped me in the process of getting where I am today. And one of those that if I’m okay to comment is a lady called Krishna Everson. And she Krishna as she doesn’t have the same group we’re in but she’s a healthy marketer and she ran 18 months ago around a healthy marketing group and she charters every day. There was a month challenge about how to help you with your marketing because most technology really is challenging for me now and I can’t do a lot of computer work or find things because I just get overwhelmed with it. I just don’t understand it and then I get frustrated. So and I feel that the Krishna got me on that speaking platform. I’ve done some speaking things with Cath Mellory and then Krishna always said, I always talk about positive pants because I have five daily tips. One of them is putting your positive pants on every day which I believe if and metaphorically if you put on your positive head, no matter what the day is like or what you’ve got to be done, I believe you can cope with your day and look at it and turn the negatives into positives. That’s one of my five daily tips. So Krishna a while ago saying how that’s a real tagline and then a friend of mine Amanda, Amanda Candy this fall went to Austria, the UK wheremy niece’s wedding said, “You need to really get some positive pants sorted.” And we dreamed it with other friends. So I did, so and these are actually large size, these aren’t mine but that’s okay. But as you can see them there.

Roxanne -Yeah, they are awesome.

Shelagh – That go from size eight to 18 in variety of colors and styles know the bikini type knickers and Janie briefs and he was more of a bit of a not joke but just a bit of a way another marketing ploy to sell with my book. And but people are actually buying them independently as well now and because they say Mr. Great stocking fillers for Christmas cause I put them in a little organza bag and I’ve got a little poem that goes with him that reads if you want me to read it.

Roxanne – Yeah, sure.

Shelagh – Wouldn’t a positive thought is all it takes to forget all your troubles and strife. Throw negativity out of the window and enjoy every day of your life and then enjoy wearing your positive pants. So there’s a few people that say ooh I need those, ooh my friend needs those and people in our saying, “Ooh I wish I had my positive pants on today.” And it’s just a bit of a thing about just making the most out of your day you know. Because don’t grumble and wind you know, there’s lots of people doing that in the world and I believe if we dig deep sometimes we can change most negatives into positives. So yeah, so that’s how they come about. So who knows what’s next who knows.

Roxanne – Yes.

Shelagh – The designer on the Coast that’s doing those for me. So it’s all local and so you I don’t know what’s next. My ultimate goal for me is to get into the health industry. Yes I’d love to do corporate pharmaceutical conferences but I really do want to get into the doctors, . the people who and the OTs, I’ve done a few occupational therapy forums and I like the fact that I’m speaking to people who were dealing with stroke survivors from almost word go. Some strokes are still misdiagnosed because because of age of people that the door is maybe not considered and that’s getting better. But I really want people to know that it’s not just the physical side of stroke that affects your life you know. It turned our life upside down, I didn’t believe I would ever get better, get out of it. And to have a husband who stood by me through the bad days and a son, I’m very very lucky. Right now, I’m tired. You know and many many many ending divorce or separation because they can’t accept the irritability. So do get a little irritable and hopefully that’s got better, I will ask David when he sees this video.

Roxanne – Yeah

Shelagh – I’m feel very lucky and you can’t get through without the support of friends and people who will help you through. And this is where the depression comes in because you know. The suicide rate is terrible and as an ex-police officer I’m monitoring that and officers committing suicide. You’ve got to talk to somebody, reach out on the Stroke Foundation, just the most wonderful people in the world. But people still don’t know they exist you know, I was lucky that I did and to be able to volunteer for them and do what I do now and speak to communities and help others is just, yeah, it’s a real good way of turning something bad into something good. I think its just giving back, just giving back because I’m here and I’m able to do it. I need to slow down a little cause what you said, “This is where I want to be.”

Roxanne – Yeah.

Shelagh – Slow down because I’m at fatigue level, my son’s you know in school, last term of school. So I need to take everything in its stride. I’m still me though, I’m still, yeah, I still like to go get, but we’ll see. We’ll see what happens, what doors will open. Well are open for a reason as people say and like they you know have an opportunity to talk to you, so then cause to be able to post this? I’ve got a documentary next week and a company called InspireFlix. We’re going to pursue a short documentary on me. So I can, I wouldn’t mind any competition. So you’ve just got to put yourself at marathon because you can’t expect it all to come to you. You’ve got to put the hard work in I think to succeed in anything. But yeah, technology’s not my thing but hopefully this will be alright.

Roxanne – Absolutely, you’re doing an amazing jobs. If I can take you back just briefly. You mentioned your five steps, positive pants is the first one, would you like to share your other four. Let’s say I can help people, yes you know if they need a bit of advice on how to and how to switch those negative thoughts off.

Shelagh – Certainly in my trainer, Melinda, she taught me those through the mindfulness. So the first is putting a positive pants on, the second is focusing on what you can do, not what you can’t and that was a huge move forward for me because once I stopped focusing on the life, I called it my old life, on my old bread and looking at what I could do through my poetry and exercise and that gotten through. So that’s focused on what you can do. Number three, be grateful. I believe I’m gratefulness in abundance and sometimes you have to dig deep but I think if you wake up every morning and go to bed at night with gratefulness in your heart, you have a happy heart. That’s my firmly believe and a practice. Number four is celebrating you successes, however large or small they may be. And celebrate them with others. I’ve got a beautiful friend called Nishit Lama, no, Nishit, that’s right, Lishis Nama and I’ve probably pronounced that wrong, but he lives in Darjeeling and he’s a follower for my Facebook for a while and he tied his shoelaces a couple of years ago for the first time you know since his stroke in 2005. So these are small things stroke survive, small things to other people but big things. And he’s now starting to run. A man who was told he’ll never walk again you know. And the fourth one, very simply is live, fifth one is live and love your life because it’s the only one you’ve got and I think people I know we can, don’t get me wrong you know, I’m not, I am a bit annoyingly positive and I might have the odd down time but you know. I always think as long as you know don’t pack up and live there just keep moving forward and be with people who is probably more than five, six, be with people who uplift you, not who suck the life out of you and drag you down. And I think that’s really important to you know try and find your tribe and stay with them it is for you and yeah it just came just keep making the most of every day because it’s so important, isn’t it? Yeah, there are my tips.

Roxanne – Yeah, okay, thank you. And I understand your tribe is continually growing you know you’ve reached out through obviously the Stroke Foundation, all the presentations that you were doing, stories of hope, a few other things that you’ve been connected with. So it’s very exciting at the moment, so you do a lot.

Shelagh – Yes, stories of hope is lovely and it’s obviously this may go more than local but you know, it’s run at Maroochydore by Kerrie Atherton who herself has an inspirational story and just going and listening to inspirational speakers, once a month you know who’ve gone through a really difficult time. And like I said you know, I suppose the same with my book. It doesn’t have to have been stroke or even a health issue. I think if you’ve had some real life change, negative life change whether that’s through relationships, through work breakups, through alcoholism, whatever the reason, I think you need to be surrounded by people who will lift you up and support you. Not necessary talk always about their own experience but when you do hear people’s you think, “Ooh wow that’s amazing.” And many people said to me you know the fact that you’ve done it and got better makes me feel that I can do that and that’s one of the greatest gifts, the greatest compliments and I didn’t have such a severe stroke. So I know sometimes I feel quite humble when people say that and but I feel as I say, I’m very lucky and we should keep sharing and helping others and if one little thing from what we’ve said today. Roxanne when it goes on YouTube when it gets said that has helped somebody and that’s been worthwhile hasn’t it for the time we have charted, that’s how I feel. And I know from people emailing, ringing, messaging, from some of my talks, from young school kids, your project how I’ve helped them not just get better but through even the first messages, signs of stroke when they’ve identified them. So that’s been really really you know uplifting to know that you’ve had a made a difference in somebody’s life for the best. Really is, yeah.

Roxanne – Absolutely and I think the way that your book, A Stroke of Poetry, like it really is chronicling you know a very serious transition period in someone’s life but you’ve presented it in such a way that you know not only survivors who have gone through stroke themselves but their families can read it and just gain a deeper understanding of what it is to go through one and yeah I said I just think it’s really marvelous the way that you’ve done it, so.

Shelagh – So thank you and you know I was talking about that today because knowing the different emotional, so cause it is a very emotional, they’re very emotional poems but I read one out today the residential home called making muffins extraordinaire I should know that and that doesn’t muffin maker extraordinaire should know that off by heart and it’s all about forgetting ingredients and not putting them in the bonds in the muffins you know and it’s a comical one but every point, it is something that happened to me and it was. There was laughter and they said you know “It’s really nice Shelagh that you’ve shared you know “some humor with us because it’s shows that you know “it doesn’t all have to be bad.” And at the time it was frustrating and I still have lots of to-do lists and I have to write things down because I forget things. But yeah, it’s really important. Many carers and research people and counselors have come back to me and said you know “That’s been really useful.” You know and that’s why I’ll go talk to anybody from a group of exercise physiologist at the Australian Catholic University to you know to a small knitting circle you know. It doesn’t really matter as long as somebody gets that message. I know I’ve helped carers understand what the partners are going through and I think that’s really really important because it’s hard to express. And I think when somebody expresses it for you as I know they’ve said write read this poem. This is how I fail you know and live like all right I guess and until you’ve gone through it, you just don’t know you what’s going on in here, and that’s the most important you know. Many put on very big brave faces and this should, so thank you for that and I really look for the book. I’m very very happy with it, please do they and I love that and give a bit back to the Stroke Foundation from the sale of each one yeah that’s really nice too.

Roxanne – Absolutely wonderful and I guess just to wrap it up, I wanted to see if there was any I guess any you pills of wisdom that you wanted to share with you is there anything else you wanted to get off of your mind at the stage.

Shelagh – Gosh. Other than my five daily tips, no but ooh I tell you what I’d really like to do if I’ve got time. Is just to briefly mention the signs of stroke on them. I have touched on them, that would be lovely. And it’s I can’t say fast because that’s English. I’ve got to say first it is Australian. Its F-A-S-T and 80% of people who have a stroke present with the FDA RBS which is the face, arms, off speech to the 20 percent that don’t. So just bear that in mind when you checking for signs of stroke. So the F means face or has the face drooped, the eyes drooped, something that looks a little bit consorted, what’s the word? In the face and the A is for the arms. Ask people to lift the arms up and see if they’ve got any loss of arm muscle tone or simply if somebody’s collapse and that would be a suggestion that the legs have obviously not got muscle tone and become very weak. The S is speech, so is the speech slurred. Mine still get slurred when I’m tired but at the time, if it’s not slurred ask them to say what their name is, the date of birth, perhaps we shouldn’t say this but who the prime minister is if they can remember and.

Roxanne -That’s probably not the best question anymore.

Shelagh – Yeah cause that’s just a joke but ask somebody. Only somebody close to them will know that but all these things may take a couple of minutes. Don’t spend forever doing that because the T is for timeliness. So timeliness is the key to saving somebody’s life or from obviously saving somebody from death or permanent disability, it’s that important. So don’t think about putting people in your car, ring triple zero, there’s a very short window for getting people to hospital diagnosed with stroke and get them either to thrombolysis, the clot busting drug or they might be able to use a stent to pull out the clot if it’s a clot. And these are cutely important. So the sooner you can get them a paramedic to the house, wherever you are. Just ring triple zero, it’s vital and be persistent at a hospital if you think something’s wrong with your loved one, your friend, then be persistent. Please don’t let them send anybody home if you’re not happy because we don’t want any misdiagnosis and people you know. People suffering from the consequence of. So they’re really important and we have cars from the Stroke Foundation, we have bookmarks, anybody wants anything just let me know, I can make sure they get those and I can speak to their community. They just need to send me an email and I can contact the Stroke Foundation or contact the Stroke Foundation and request a stroke safe speaker which is what you really need to do. So yeah, plenty of ways to learn more about stroke and be strokes safe.

Roxanne – Excellent, and so the best way to find your contact details would be through your website I’m guessing.

Shelagh – Yep, yeah I’ve got a contact page on my website, astrokeofpoetry.com, Facebook I post daily. I try and do a daily poem if I can if I’m up to it but I’d certainly share lots of Stroke Foundation news because they’re posting daily too. I’m on Twitter, I’m on Instagram is both Shelagh and I have a YouTube channels Shelagh Brennand. So you can look at my other videos. So I’m there, if I’m not just Shelagh Brennand, I’m a stroke of poetry. So hopefully be able to find me.

Roxanne – Absolutely, now that’s wonderful. Well thank you so so much for taking your time to share the story with us today and yeah I’m sure that there will be lots of people watching this, that you will again be able to help through this medium. So I really appreciate that.

Shelagh – Yeah, I want to thank you Roxanne for bringing it to people’s attention to I know you trying to interview people and the right sort of people and I think it’s people like yourselves and other podcasts and interviews I’ve done over the years that are really beneficial because somebody might not see the others but the hopefully they’re going to see this one. So and I get again new friends you know, new circles of people as you do, as you go on with your business. So thank you for highlighting stroke, I really appreciate that. So on behalf of me and the Stroke Foundation.

Roxanne – Thank you. Not a problem at all. All right, thanks.