‘There’s life after a stroke’: Havering police officer shares his story of recovery
- Credit: Archant
A police officer who spent a year recovering after a stroke, wants people who have been in the same situation to, “not give up and push through their boundaries.”
David Bunn, 57, works at Romford Police Station, Main Road, in the communications partnership team.
Three years ago, in May 2015, David had a life changing experience.
He told the Recorder: “I went to work as normal, but after a while I felt a pinch in my right shoulder.
“I went on patrol, but found I couldn’t physically grip the keys to start the car.
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“Eventually I forced myself to do it and went back to the police station.
“The next morning I went to the doctors and was told that I needed to go to the hospital.
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“They did some tests, but I just couldn’t believe it. While the intern was telling me that I was having a stroke I was still in denial.”
At first David thought that the pain in his shoulder came from a trapped nerve caused by the weight of a new stab vest he was wearing.
He also didn’t have all of the usual symptoms that people might associate with a stroke.
“When I got home, I looked in the mirror and there was no facial disfiguration, I had no slurred speech,” David said.
“For the first time ever I couldn’t remember [my wife’s] birthday, I couldn’t remember our wedding anniversary date and that’s not like me at all.
“I knew what I wanted to say to her, but I couldn’t get the words out. At that point [my wife] said you have to go to the hospital.”
As soon as David had been seen by a doctor, within two minutes he was rushed to hospital where scans showed that he had a large thumbprint shape on his brain.
David describes the experience as “traumatic” but explains that it was the help of the nurses at Southend Hospital and family that helped him persevere.
The Romford police officer said: “Whilst I was in hospital, I couldn’t talk properly. I couldn’t walk in a straight line, it was a real struggle.
“The fatigue is probably the worst thing I have ever known. One moment you think your fine, and then the next you’re falling asleep.
“My wife was very supportive and the hospital staff were amazing, I can’t thank them enough.”
Nearly three years after his stroke, David’s message to those who had a similar experience is one of encouragement.
“There’s definitely life after a stroke,” he said.
“My biggest goal was to get back to work, because I love my job.
“I’m a very black and white person and I thought that at work, you’re not noticed and you’re just a number.
“The sergeants came round and were very supportive, and while I was adjusting, I was able to come in and work short days.
“They have been great in finding me a desk job that matches my health.”
For David, working on your mental health while recovering from a stroke is just as important as physical recovery.
He said: “If you get any of the symptoms, go and see your GP as soon as possible and make an appointment.
“For me as an older person, growing up with the stigma of mental health, it was actually the best thing I have ever done, to talk in a group session about problems I was having in a collective group with specialists.”
David is now back to running major operations at work.
“I think you have to be stubborn, and you have got to want to get better for yourself,” he said.
“Set your own goals, and if you don’t reach those goals, look at the positives you have managed to achieve.”
“I just want to encourage people not to give up, to actually push through their boundaries.”