IN 2016 I suffered several rare forms of strokes (CVST’s) but was sent home from hospital with no help or support.

For me it all started with ear ache, or I should say, pain in my neck around my ear and sinus pain along with nausea and high blood pressure.

For several weeks I visited my GP surgery. Many doctors missed the signs and I was diagnosed with an ear infection even though they said they couldn’t see infection but there was some swelling.

The last visit to the GP was an early evening appointment, where my ear was checked and I was told my ear was fine and I expressed my pain and the doctor pushed hard behind my ear.

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I screamed and was crying and was sent away with more pain killers. I got home and went to bed crying in pain.

It wasn’t until August 2017 - after a long wait from my GP referral to a rehab unit which was chased by a lovely female haematologist as urgent - where the word “stroke” was mentioned.

Here I had more scans and found out that as well as the 3 CVSTs there was another small clot in the occipital lobe which explained my vision problems.

My story isn’t a one off. Rehabilitation and immediate intervention is key to stroke recovery.

After eight months I received rehabilitation support from the Oxford Centre for Enablement (OCE).

There, I took part in art therapy which not only helped me regain use of my affected arm, but emotionally helped me too, and a talent for painting became apparent.

My creative side swiftly took over. I wanted to use this creativity to give back and raise awareness because it is a common assumption that strokes only happen to the elderly, and support systems are largely geared for that stroke survivor leaving many in limbo at a critical time when they need help and support.

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The systems of support are not geared up well for younger or working age stroke survivors.

The benefits and support systems are there but it’s very difficult to get them.

I need care, which my mum and family provide, and yet because of my age and that we live in the same house, my mum cannot get carers allowance, yet if I lived off the system in a house they paid for, she would.

The world has changed and the support systems need to realise strokes happen at any age. If I were married, my spouse would get support but because I’m single and living with family we get no support for care.

Initially, I decided to fundraise via my art blog, @stroke_ofabrush, by selling cards and work and with the help of Graham Perryman, this year I’ve taken part in my first art exhibitions; Bicester Artweeks, Artist in the Countryside and Bicester Festival.

By exhibiting I try to spread my message far and wide. This was never going to be enough, so with my love of music I set up CHANCES.

I missed music gigs and festivals and finding a venue proved difficult so I thought why not set up my own event.

I focused my speech and language rehabilitation to do something with a purpose. The name, branding and logo for CHANCES was all thought of by myself (most of it through aphasia mishaps), and with support, CHANCES turned into a reality.

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The slogan for CHANCES is ‘Second CHANCES, Take CHANCES and Give CHANCES’. And that’s exactly what it does; we offer people opportunity from volunteers, photographers, bands, DJs and artists that need a break.

We are now busy fundraising for 2020, looking for sponsors and support so please get in touch if you think this is something you can help us with.

I try and see the positives, and many people give up after stroke, but I won’t.

I accept what has happened and believe me I wish it never had, but in a weird way it’s made me a better person.