John Getley with wife Katrina Getley and granddaughter Olivia aged 13Local man John Getley who has recently recovered from a stroke is encouraging other stoke survivors to attend a new support group which meets for the first time in Medway in September.

On Tuesday, 10 September 2013, people who have had a stroke and their families will meet at Gillingham Methodist Church from 10am to 12pm. The group will then continue to meet on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month. The group are being supported by stroke therapists at Medway Community Healthcare.

Chris Gedge, stroke services manager, at Medway Community Healthcare said: “We are delighted to bring this additional support to people in Medway who have been affected by stroke.

“The idea for the support group came out of a recent meeting between patients and our team, held in response to requests by patients surveyed about the care they received. We realised the huge benefit brought to patients by talking to each other and discussing the ups and downs they felt during recovery.”

Helping to set up the group is John Getley, 66, who lives in Rochester. John had a stroke in May 2012, just two months after retiring as a senior police officer.

“I went from being active, professional and having a photographic memory to having complete weakness down one side and suffering memory loss,” John explained.

After spending six weeks at Medway Maritime Hospital on the stroke unit, being cared for by the Medway Community Healthcare stroke team, John returned home to his wife in Rochester with the continued support of the stroke team.

John said: “I still have some weakness and memory loss but looking at me now people wouldn’t know I have had a stroke and I am so thankful to the team for their help.

“However, sometimes you need the emotional support that can only come from speaking to someone with a shared experience and that’s where I think the support group will really benefit people.

“When I came home from hospital I felt as if my life had come to an end. I was frightened to go outside and would sit at home watching TV and suddenly realise I was crying at a TV advert. I felt alone.”

That all changed when John was encouraged by his wife to attend a stroke meeting run by Medway Community Healthcare where he met Dave Hooker, 60, a former paratrooper from Rainham who suffered a stroke in August 2011.
“Dave and I meet regularly now for a coffee. We are proud men but we sit together and talk honestly and all our emotions come out. We keep thanking each other for the support and friendship. I am now full of confidence and full of beans, life is good.

“I want people to know that it’s not strange to have mood swings and cry; their world hasn’t come to an end because of a stroke.

“Talking to other people may bring confidence and reassure you, as well as support family members who, like my wife, change from being family to carers overnight.”

To find out more about coming to the stroke support group please contact the Medway Community Healthcare stroke team on 01634 382870.