'I had to believe I'd get better'
PUBLISHED: 10:54 15 April 2013 | UPDATED: 10:56 15 April 2013
An Exmouth stroke-victim, who was left partially paralysed, wants to use his almost complete recovery as an inspiration to others.
On Christmas Eve, 2002, 78-year-old retired engineer Len Worsfold from Exeter Road suffered a devastating stroke which left him unable to talk, walk or use his right side.
Simple things that he took for granted like washing, eating and talking to Jan, his wife of more than 50 years, were all but impossible.
But together with patience, exercise, determination and persistence his condition gradually improved, a little bit every day.
Now he is fitter than many non-stroke sufferers his age, spending much of his time cultivating rhubarb and beetroot in his Exeter Road garden.
He said: “Thanks to my wife, ten years on, you would hardly realise a stroke had occurred.”
He said, during that time, 449 other Exmouth residents have suffered a stroke.
“At the start, recovery was very slow, and it did get me down.
“There seemed to be very little progress in the first two years.
“In my diary, I would get very despondent and write ‘I have just about reached my limit’.
“Only then I would notice that six months earlier I had written exactly the same thing!”
Gradually Len’s health started to recover and after a year it was time to go out.
“We went over the step, down the drive, 50 yards down the road and back.
“It was exhausting, but happiness ruled supreme,” he said.
Just six months after that he returned to the bowling green and he soon began driving once again and he even got a job as a part-time gardener.
Now Len is a contributor to the NHS magazine The South West Stroke Research Network, and he has even designed and built a ‘rehab exerciser’ which he says, with a few minutes each day, aids recovery.
He said: “I had to believe I would get better. I want to inspire stroke sufferers that they can get better and they can get their life back.
“Some days I have problems articulating what I want to say – but this morning, for the first time in ten years, I was able to put my trousers on by balancing, without having to steady myself with my other hand.
“But if I can inspire just one person I would have achieved something significant.”
● If you would to help contact the SW Stroke Research Network at the RD&E on 01392 406977.