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the website for a selection of writing by Stuart and Beryl Donnan
in Southampton UK, and links to the wider Donnan family

Some of Beryl's thoughts about having suffered
a stroke, recorded about 5 years after the stroke

website updated on 18 September 2016
Beryl was interviewed by Angela Cotter in mid-2005 (5 years after her stroke). The following are extracts from the recorded interview which is transcribed without editing (with a few words of clarification in italics in a few places in brackets).

When the stroke happened             Recovery            Rehabilitation
Later - including meditation and the church       A final thought

The "Mondrian moment"

Contact Beryl

(Stuart will help her read the message and respond).

When the stroke happened

... we were going to Southampton with my family there and we went on a train, you see, and I felt very well and I sat outside. It was a lovely day with friends and people I didn't know very well and people I knew really well and suddenly ... I didn't know what happened, suddenly it was just gone. It disappeared and I got ... and I only saw one minute, I was sitting out in the garden, in their house, and I looked around and the only thing that I remember, they were all doctors, they were all coming around ...

And the next thing, I didn't see till the next day when I had vagueness about anything ... about anything had happened ... But the next day I was in a ward and I, you know, ... I can remember I said the first time, I said, "Oh, that's better, that's better". And I didn't hear what I said but Stuart said, I was very chuffed, that was what I actually said! I didn't know I could say anything like that but I had a feeling and I just felt, oh I'm getting better! That sort of feeling.

But after time then I got so many cards and people — so many people — it was only later on when I thought it was really puzzling, so many people around me, you know, from a long way away, Norwich and other places, giving beautiful, lovely pictures, or presents and things like that. And I thought — oh, you know — but I thought it was very strange that everybody was making such a beautiful fuss, and one thing, all these blooms, and it was such a .... it was really strange that I had no idea ...


... the next thing I remember is one day, I think Stuart said, "Well maybe we can move to a different place", and we went in an area with no other people (a side ward) and there I can ...
And the first time I was sitting, and the first thing, the only thing, that Stuart was very ... couldn't believe because I said, "Look at the colours, like that's Mondrian", you know, the colours, I just saw that's what it looks like and but ... I just said that and that was that.

Stuart commented later in the interview about the Mondrian moment:
In the side ward, it had metal sash windows with I think some double-glazing windows which were ... slid horizontally or something. Anyway looking at the window there was a real linear box, rectangular shape and that's when Beryl looked at the window and said, "Mondrian", just like that. And that was really encouraging. I thought, Blimey, some of the neurons are a bit knocked off but some of the others are still working perfectly well! And this was without any colours, it wasn't coloured, it was just the sky through it, but it was the shapes ...


And it was just strange the people were always popping out and going and ... but ... and then the other thing, I used to always see these little rabbits, when it was dark and I could watch them all and the place had horses, you know. (It was in the New Forest.)

And I found that was all so amazing and lovely but after a while I said to somebody, that was Stuart I suppose, I said, "Look, I can't ... I'm fed up with this sitting. I want to walk, I'm sure I can walk". And I think Stuart said, "Well have a go", ... or something like that, and I felt I wasn't doing very well, and suddenly all these nurses raced round and said, "No, no, no, no! You don't want to that, you're not allowed to do that!" And I thought, oh, oh, and there was one nurse, and I knew, she's a — I don't know the word now — but she was a person who could do ... (she was a physiotherapist) Yes, that's right. And after a while she said, "Well, actually, you know, I've watched you for a while, you know, I think you could do it by now". And she said ... and I was so slow, she said, "Why do you moan, worrying all the time, just smile and ...!"

And after a time, I said, yes, after a while I found it so much better; and over time I was getting better and better with my walking around and, of course, this other ... one , it was strange, the next ... a few days later on, this other woman (another stroke patient) who could talk non-stop — she was very amazed. She said well, if you think, she must have said in a sort of way, "Well if you can do it, I can do it!" that sort of feeling, which I found that very strange. ... And I must say she tried very hard, but on the whole she was different to me and at the time I had no idea what the difference was.

Later — including meditation, and the church

Well, I tried to meditate, it's the best way to do because I didn't want, I feel I can't cope with church in any reasoned thinking because all the words are going blah blah blah, they're talking non-stop, you know, around me, and I thought well that's a bit silly really now, I can't ... but I can think ... I can't really pray in the real things, but I just waft around other people and, you know, that sort of praying of people in a different way altogether.

And then we went and had some friends, who knocked on the door I suppose they did, or rang up, and said, "There's a meditation place and we've got ...." These two people were very friendly, the same sort of age, and he used to be a Methodist (pastor) and so on, and they'd moved very close to where our house is, with all that ... She said oh yes, I remember that she said that it's a meditation place but it's real, I don't know the words (Christian meditation) ... ... ... and then it was a wonderful time. It was a place of Clare women (Poor Clares' Convent).

But over that time it was, oh, a year or two, I'm not sure how much time it really was, but we got into so many people who were interesting to talk with or different people in different ways and I found that a very stimulating time that was probably very good for me. ...

No ...When you think about it, you see, I suppose after the stroke, in my mind, in my heart, there's a ... that God said "That's enough, that's enough." That's the sort of feeling. Because my whole life ... I started in the Brethren and then I went to all, oh so many different places, and I was glad when I was getting ... I can never think what you are now ... were you ... when you started off you were an ... Anglican, I can never ... one of those certain things, I never say that because you know, I've got to that point ... as if God had said enough of all that sort of thing ... ...

(A final thought)

... but honestly though, nobody cares a hoot about strokes, really it's just one of those ... no-one ... ...

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