Like Bruce Willis, I have aphasia – it controls your life

The moment I found out that Bruce Willis was retiring from acting due to aphasia, I felt so sorry for him (Image: GETTY)

I was 36 when this happened.

I was healthy but one day in February 2017, I had a sudden headache.

Two days passed and I went to the doctor. The GP said to continue monitoring him and be back in a week.

Five days later, my partner Joe took the kids to stay with her parents because I still had headaches and wanted some peace and quiet.

I had a severe stroke the next morning.

I couldn’t move, talk, or do anything. I also noticed that the right side of my face was drooping and when I tried to get up, I fell.

I was confused. I could get myself back in again, but I didn’t want to ask for help. I didn’t know what help. I was confused.

I think my partner was away for 24 hours after my stroke, but I don’t know because everything was a bit hazy.

I can photograph it.

Joe opened the front door to our house and was in the upstairs bedroom, lying on the floor. She said, “George.”

I couldn’t get any words out but I felt very comfortable knowing that Joe would call the hospital and look after me.

Joe cried “Oh no” when she saw me and knew I had a stroke because of my face.

George and his family

I couldn’t speak for two months so I had to get speech therapy (Photo: George Morrison)

The ambulance came and I was relieved by the idea that I would not die today.

The stroke was due to a blood vessel in the neck having collapsed and preventing oxygen from getting to my brain.

While I was in the ICU, I didn’t understand what the problem was or what people were saying. I also can’t speak.

After the doctor asked me to write my name and I couldn’t, my partner was then told that I now had a language disorder called aphasia.

Doctors didn’t know how long it would last because some people recover quickly in the first few weeks, but I didn’t.

I couldn’t speak for two months so I had to get speech therapy.

I stayed in the hospital for six months and was being treated to walk again, move my arms again and balance.

it was hard. Fatigue overwhelmed.

I used to bike and run for fun and now, 30 minutes of physical exercise is very hard to do.

While fatigue decreases, it never goes away.

I can walk again, with a slight limp today. My right hand does not move well.

I can lock the clamp, but I can’t release it and all my arms are weak. But aphasia is the terrible thing.

But it is getting better, but slowly.

Coming home from the hospital was great.

George

While fatigue diminishes, it never goes away (Photo: George Morrison)

I could walk very short distances with a walking stick and my aphasia improved after the stroke increased.

I had an NHS doctor for 12 hours and that’s it. I received NHS speech therapy twice a week (with homework every day!) and once a week after six months.

The end of my speech therapy was a year after I started.

My partner is wonderful.

She supports me with my life supervisor – helping me get my point across and she is very patient.

A year after my stroke, I went back to work as a PR firm and my founder was very good to me.

He has been relentlessly patient and recovery from aphasia is very long.

Unfortunately, after nine months of starting work again, I realized I could no longer do my job, so I had to retire medically.

It’s something that completely changed my life.

So the moment I found out that Bruce Willis was retiring from acting due to aphasia, I felt so sorry for him, his wife, his kids, and his friends.

I know exactly how he feels now.

In a statement posted on his daughter Rumer’s Instagram, it was revealed: “Our beloved Bruce has some health issues and was recently diagnosed with aphasia, which affects his cognitive abilities.”

“As a result of this and with a great deal of consideration, Bruce is stepping away from the career path he had so much on,” the statement added.

Today, I am the father of my God in the house and I will give the world to my children and my partner.

Thanks to the physical exercises and upper limbs I still do, I can play, tidy up, and take my kids to school.

Jo was really supportive and was tough with the kids and had a partner who had a stroke.

george cycling

Many people are unaware of the fact that disabled people can ride a bike (Photo: George Morrison)

Since I was diagnosed with aphasia, I’ve found that aphasia combinations like Reconnect and iCafe help me talk freely and get some time.

People in these groups have first-hand knowledge of stroke and aphasia and I love it, talking to other patients who suffer from it, and making friends.

I also volunteer for a disability charity called Wheels for Well-being, which supports people with disabilities to enjoy cycling. Many people are unaware of the fact that disabled people can ride bicycles, but there is infrastructure, huge costs, and utility barriers.

My friends got together and got a tricycle for me (2 wheels in the front and one in the back) and I really enjoy using it.

Before the stroke, I used to ride road bikes and did all kinds of bike races in different countries.

According to the Stroke Association, around 1.1 million people in the UK recover from a stroke, and about a third of these suffer from aphasia.

Aphasia is a serious condition and I don’t know exactly why my stroke occurred.

I have bad days, but my partner and friends have been supportive of me which is impressive.

I say this to Bruce Willis: keep going.

Recovery can take a long time, but set yourself goals. Surround yourself with patient and positive people and hopefully you will get there.

I am optimistic about my future.

Do you have a story you’d like to share? Contact us at jess.austin@metro.co.uk.

Share your opinions in the comments below.

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