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VirginiaGransnet (GNHQ) Thu 16-Apr-15 11:27:28

Inger's Story

Inger Wallis, aged 53 and from London is married with two daughters, aged 27 and 22. Inger also has a grandson who is 1. She is a former manager of retail at the Royal Academy of Arts and was diagnosed with a haemorrhagic stroke in 2009 when she was 48. This left her with a condition called Aphasia which affects her reading, writing, talking and understanding, as well as her relationships.

Inger Wallis

Ingers' Story

Posted on: Thu 16-Apr-15 11:27:28


Lead photo

Inger and her grandson.

At 48 I was a busy mum with a wonderful job and a solid relationship. But having a sudden stroke at 49 meant that I struggled with basic things like reading and talking. I no longer work full time and share the care of my delightful one year old grandson. Life has definitely got better since my stroke as it has made me a softer, more calm and appreciative person. Although I loved my job, it dominated my life. I now work only one day a week (still at the Royal Academy of Arts) and therefore have much more time for my family.

Like a lot of women I was the dynamic leader of the family. But for for the three years following my stroke, my husband had to be both mother and father as I adjusted my new life. My youngest daughter left school at 16 and developed anorexia almost immediately after my stroke, while my eldest daughters’ epilepsy went off the scale and my wonderful husband started relying on alcohol to relax in the evening.

I now know that life can change in the blink of an eye, so I enjoy every moment.

It has been a long, hard journey to get to our new "normal". My relationship with my husband has deepened, but it is different. As my stroke happened during sex it has had a massive impact on our intimacy and the taboo nature of my stroke has meant we haven't been able to offload our awful experience as you might usually when overcoming a dramatic event.

Many people suffer strokes and heart attacks but most help from the NHS is focused on the physical body, not the emotional effect. I have also struggled with depression along the way but the arrival of my first grandchild has changed that. He has brought real meaning into our lives and there is no greater pleasure than pushing him around our local park and feeding the pigeons – or chasing them! I now know that life can change in the blink of an eye, so I enjoy every moment.

Due to my experience I am supporting Relate’s Best Medicine campaign, which calls on the government to put relationships at the heart of the NHS. Find out more and sign their petition at

By Inger Wallis

Twitter: @Relate_charity

jinglbellsfrocks Thu 16-Apr-15 11:52:27

A sad, and at the same time lovely, story.

But, I'm not sure how we can expect the NHS to help with relationships. Especially while it's so short of funds.

jinglbellsfrocks Thu 16-Apr-15 11:53:20

Hello Virginia. Are you new? smile

jinglbellsfrocks Thu 16-Apr-15 11:59:32

I don't understand why anyone would need or want outside "specialists" to help with t he kind of situation mentioned on the petition page. I wonder if they really do?

VirginiaGransnet (GNHQ) Thu 16-Apr-15 12:16:23

Hi jinglbellsfrocks, newish yes!

Tegan Thu 16-Apr-15 12:52:22

I found that, when I turned to Relate for help when my marriage was breaking down, it was far too expensive to go to the counselling sessions, so I had to stop them. They then stopped having a counsellor or my doctors. That sort of thing, as jingle has pointed out, seems to be the first thing to go when there are economic cuts.

Brusselsgran Thu 16-Apr-15 17:29:04

I'm touched by your story, Inger, and especially by the way your grandson has changed your life ... As young women, we don't think much about challenges of middle or older age (I'm now 72); but they are REAL. And the joys of grandchildren are real too; mine are 6 and 4 and I never thought they would bring me the joy they have. I've been lucky to be able to afford counselling at various points over the years. At least in your case, there are now positives ... sending you good vibes

Purpledaffodil Thu 16-Apr-15 20:47:18

More than 7 years ago, DH had a stroke with a seizure and went on to have two more strokes within a month, the last of which left him with aphasia. He has lost most of his literacy and his receptive language is poor. However his speech sounds surprisingly normal and he does not even walk with a limp. This is actually a disadvantage as people do not identify him as disabled. Here is not the place to discuss our relationship, but it has had massive ups and downs, made worse by his lack of understanding and frustration with words and numbers. For example, today I had to try to get him to tell an insurance person on the telephone what our previous address was in order to answer security questions. He couldn't do it, became frustrated and went, leaving me to apologise and be told that I had to photocopy his passport, have it endorsed, fill in a long form etc etc. all because a 68 year old man could not say an old address. It is both sad and extremely frustrating.

However in spite of this, I cannot believe that the NHS should be focussed on relationships. While there are newborn babies in incubators and young mothers dying of cancer, the frustrations of stroke survivors and their carers should not be a priority. As at least one other Gransnetter knows, we just get on with the hand we have been dealt and have to be strong. sad