The misery of failure

The Misery of Failure.

That’s a sober and glum title don’t you think? One were I’m wallowing in self-pity and self-absorption. A friend said to me once that it’s alright being misery and feeling sorry  for yourself for a little time, like a couple of  days, but after that you need to ‘snap out of it’. Well that’s alright, It’s just a standard whinge I’m doing here, and don’t worry, I’ll be ‘snapping right out of it’ afterwards. The object of my misery? The failure of my plan to ditch my epilepsy medication.

In one of my last posts, I described how happy I was not to be using my epilepsy drugs any more. But, unfortunately this was not the way that the ‘cookie crumbled’ if you know what I mean. In May I went to Exeter for the weekend with some friends and had a massive seizure in the middle of Exeter. That was at lunchtime on Saturday. I woke up the next day at, 24 hours after I went down. When I was fully awake again a consultant came to see me, a very professional and articulate woman. After examining me she asked me why I had stopped my medication. My answer was very simple;

“Because they make me feel terrible” I said to her.

“Well, I can’t do anything about the symptoms” she replied “but I can do something about your seizures with this medication, please take it Mark.”

That was it, it was the only thing she said. So, I carried her instructions to the hilt I’ve done this because so direct and professional was her approach that I could not see any other way to go but that way. I now know that I have to take these tablets, because that’s the way it is. I know that’s a complete U-turn from what I said in my other post about my epilepsy drugs and I accept that, yes I’m taking one for the team here, I’m stuck with these drugs for the rest of my life and it’s something that has to be done. So, like many people before me all I can do is that

PS, I know that is taken a long time for me to post this, this happened in May its nearly September and I’m very sorry about that, but if like me you have had a stroke you know that procrastination is the buzz word here and eventually I will post something about it, see what I mean. See your next time, take care, Mark.


God bless the NHS

It took me just over four months to get home after my stroke. To say that I was just a ghost of my old self was an understatement. I know this because my son took a sly picture of me (photographs were forbidden in the ward). My head was so skinny that I could see the outline of my skull underneath my face. I still shudder when I see this image.

On 28th May 2012 I suffered something that happens to thousands of people every year in the UK. A clot had worked its way up my leg and stopped my heart. When my heart started beating again, the pressure shattered the clot. All of these pieces got into my brain and I had six strokes simultaneously.

At the time I was a 47 year old fit ex squaddie, who did not smoke or drink. I regularly cycled 10 miles a day to work and back, despite all this fate intervened.    I do not remember anything about the stroke, all I know is that one minute I was talking to my beautiful wife and two weeks later woke at Mount Gould hospital, in Plymouth. In the next few months I had to learn to walk and speak again. In addition I needed to adapt with life with deafness, partial blindness and the complete power loss of my right arm. My mental agility was nearly non-existence; I was in a weird and really vivid reality. My brain, or what was left of it, was inserting some very intense hallucinations to fill in the gaps in my consciousness. I even saw a Tiger once, honestly I did, and it was sitting down watching me. Teeth, claws and stripes, everything. It was as real as the next person you will see in front of you. Then it turned around and padded silently up the ward before disappearing into nothingness.

A friend said later that ‘something changed in my eyes’ when I started to understand what people were saying to me.

The occupational therapists, Di and Laura taught me how to walk and eventually we went to Captain Jaspers on the Barbican for a ‘Jasperizer burger’; mucky but yummy. Pauline, the occupational therapist took me up and down stairs, to the café and to my home to see what adjustments had to be made in order to return.

On 19th September I left Mount Gould to start my rehab. My golden retriever ‘Winston’ flung himself onto me like a hairy rug and grappled me to the floor.  He put his front legs around my neck and hugged me for ages.

Five years on, it is like a very bad dream. Although I still have the side effects of my stroke, I have still made a good recovery.   I should acknowledge that my recovery is due to the hard dedication of the staff at Mount Gould Hospital who got me back on my feet again.  I hope that those of you reading this do not suffer a stroke but if you do there are some guidelines below that I hope will help you.



Welcome Back to the “Quick Shadow.” I hope you are all ok. In this post I would like to talk about epilepsy and how it makes you feel. (If you have it). It is estimated that 500,000 people in the UK have epilepsy (www.nhs.a-z) that is one in every hundred. Of all the things that I have had to cope with my stroke, epilepsy is the worse.  My first seizure happened about I year after my stroke. I don’t know anything about happen this seizure, I just woke up on a bed in A&E about two hours later.  That’s what really happens. There is no warning, I have probably have pee’d myself and my muscles are howling with pain.

Apart from that everything is tickety boo. I say that in the most grudging way that I can. In about 1 month ago I booked an appointment with my GP. I did this because I was worried about my wellbeing. These tablets were giving me some really strong side effects. These side effects were:


Being ‘spaced out’ or stoned all of the time.




When I sat down with my GP I was resolute that I should stop my epilepsy medication as soon as I could. I had come to the conclusion because these symptoms were stopping me from having a normal life. I could not concentrate at all on anything and the depression made me short tempered and very tired. When I told this to my GP, she replied but revealing to me that my current medication was a very old drug and had been on the market for a considerable time and was known to give these side effects.

There was another thing which was visible to me when I stopped my medication. That was ‘the curtain.’ If you are not conversant with this, imagine that you are inside a thick opaque curtain which stretches around you. This curtain is impenetrable and stops you reaching all the other people in the world.  The thing about these (epilepsy medication) side effects is that you are so strong that the ‘curtain’ is completed masked.

A few months ago, I started ‘wean’ myself off these tablets. I did this because I wanted to eradicate the side effects that I have listed above. I’m happy to report that this side effects are a thing of the past and, guess what? That curtain I was telling you about, I’ve welcomed it back like an old friend.

Let me wrap this up by saying that I’m not telling anyone to stop their medication, it’s not my place to say that. However, if the price of stopping it them is 1 seizure every  six months next to my own happiness I know which one I will choose!


First Post

First post

Hello my name is Mark Scarrott and welcome to the Quick Shadow. I have created this website to try to help other stroke survivors in what can be a very stressful time for anyone.

The website is going to be very basic to start off with, I’ll concentrate on posts and eventually I would like to generate some video diaries on the blog, which I hope will help to reassure those who view the blog that the information in the blogs can benefit their lives.

First, of all, let me tell you about myself.

I had my stroke on 27 May 2012 in my garage, when I was 47, and it was singly the most shocking and horrifying experience of my life. The last thing I remember is telling my wife,

‘I can’t breathe.’

Then I fell to the floor. I don’t remember anything after that. I woke up in June, in Mount Gould Hospital in Plymouth in the rehab unit. I can’t really remember anything else at the time. I was in sort of a dislocated dream world. The memory is disjointed and vague at best with many situations which I still cannot make sense of.

The first thing and important thing that I would like to say to you is that you are not alone. I say that because there must be millions of people in Britain who have survived a stroke. I’m one of the lucky ones, I have a fantastic family and a strong circle of friends. I cannot imagine what it must be like to be alone. With that mind-set and the symptoms that you have with a stroke it is very difficult to motivate yourself. The feelings of desolation and the despair that you have every day can, without any warning, overwhelm you and leave you in a very cold and unhappy place.

The best way to combat these feelings is to talk to other people. I know that for some people this sounds crumbly and lame, especially if you are someone who has prized your solitude.

I run a small group called “Just my stroke.” We meet every Wednesday from 10:30 am to 12:30am. It’s a small group with 12 people at most and we sit around and drink tea and whinge. So if you are around my neck of the woods you are more than welcome to come and have a brew and a whinge. I will put the location and some contact numbers up at the end of the post.

Well, that’s it for my first post. Thank you for reading it. And because it’s that time of year please let me wish you a very merry Christmas. Cheers!

“Just my stroke” meet every Wednesday at the Discovery Café in the Methodist Hall, Cornwall Street, Plymouth at the top of the street, opposite M&S. 10:30am to 12:30 pm

Please call Mark on 01752 845848 or 07967 038876


Or if you are not in Plymouth you could try the Stroke Association on their helpline: 0303 3033 100.


Good Luck!

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