an Oh Myyy Property

An entrepreneur and former elite athlete who was working 18-hour days “at 150 mph," believes that having a stroke in his 30s was the “best thing that ever happened" to him—after he quit the rat race and started a charity supporting fellow survivors.

Dad-of-two Craig Pankhurst, 40, of Wirral, Merseyside, England, a former international swimmer, admits he neglected his health after giving up the sport and was feeling burned out following years of working crazy hours, when he had a stroke in April 2018, then just 39.

But, instead of despairing, Craig, whose wife Kirsten, 43, is a deputy head teacher at Birkenhead School, said:

“My stroke was a kick up the backside, it needed to happen."

Craig post stroke.PA REAL LIFE/COLLECT

Craig continued:

“It was a challenging time, but ultimately if I had not had my stroke I would still be going at 150 miles an hour. I honestly believe it was the best thing that ever happened to me."
“It gave me that kick to change my life. My values and my lifestyle have changed."
“I realized the one commodity you can't buy is time, so I try to make the best of the day and spend time with my wife and children."

Craig, Kirsten with Darcy and Reefe.PA REAL LIFE/COLLECT

Once swimming butterfly, backstroke and front crawl for the Scottish and British teams, competing at youth international level and winning a number of international gold medals, Craig, who has a daughter Reefe, nine, and a stepdaughter Darcy, 13, admits he had been eating too much, exercising too little and taking on too much stress running his company, before he was ill.

Determined to make a success of the firm he established in 2015, delivering education and leadership training to businesses and charities, he started feeling worn out by work stress in the days leading up to his stroke.

He said:

“I had been a super-fit elite athlete, but after retiring from sport in 2002 I hadn't really looked after my physical or mental health."

Craig in hospital after the stroke.PA REAL LIFE/COLLECT

“My diet was good, but I was eating far too much and because I was not training four to six hours a day that was a contributory factor."
“The company was doing well and I was working ridiculously long hours – probably 14 to 18 hours a day."

Craig only found out after the stroke on Saturday, April 28, 2018, that he had a dissection of a cerebral artery – a tear in the wall of one of the large blood vessels – and this caused a blood clot which moved to his brain.

Recalling the moment the stroke happened, he said:

“I woke up and when I opened my eyes the room was still black. There was no light coming into my eyes for about a second or so."
“Then when light came in my right eye, I could see the room rotate through it in one direction and the left was rotating in the other direction."
“It made me feel incredibly sick. I had this crushing migraine. I tried to make my way to the bathroom and was sick."

Craig as a competitive swimmer.PA REAL LIFE/COLLECT

He continued:

“I did a typical bloke thing where I put it down to stress, thinking it was a migraine and spent the day in bed. I was sick about 30 times and felt really awful."

Despite spending the weekend in bed, Craig went to work on Monday morning, walking with a limp, feeling confused, suffering from vertigo and seeing speckles in his right eye.

Looking really unwell, his colleagues quickly urged him to go to hospital.

Craig's brain scan post stroke showing an area of damage to the right hand side.PA REAL LIFE/COLLECT

“I was admitted to Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral where they did a CT scan and MRI scan which showed two areas of damage to my brain and confirmed I'd had a stroke."

He explained:

“It was a shock, because I had always associated strokes with old people and there was no history of them in my family. It completely knocked the wind out of my sails."
“I stayed in hospital for three days and was signed off work for six months, but because it was my business and I was the managing director I felt I needed to be there, so I went back two days after being discharged."

Craig explained:

“But then I had another event in the office. There were similar symptoms, vomiting and confusion, so I was admitted to Arrow Park Hospital's stroke ward and was seen by a stroke consultant."
“Although I had not had another stroke, an MRA scan, which looks inside the blood vessels, showed that I had a dissection of the cerebral artery and I was referred to the Walton Centre for Neurology and Neurosurgery in Liverpool, which is managing my on-going care."
“The second event did not create any further brain damage. It was actually lucky it happened, because it meant doctors discovered the dissection and I was in hospital for just over a week."

Craig said:

“I'm under the care of the Walton Centre having on going engagement with my neurologist. They monitor the dissection via MRI scans and will decide on a course of treatment."

Craig described the second event as a wake-up call, leading to him cutting
his calorie intake, getting fit and reducing the amount of stress he was under.

Then in September 2018 he and the board took the momentous decision to liquidate the business he had lovingly launched.

Craig as a competitive swimmer.PA REAL LIFE/COLLECT

He explained:

“It was a really difficult decision and at the time it seemed like my world was ending, but I also felt like I'd had a bit of an epiphany and thought about how my relationships with my family had suffered, because of the way I'd been working."
“Also, after the second incident I was advised not to work for nine months."

That September, following a good rest, Craig started to think about what he could do to help other stroke survivors and the idea for his charity A Stroke of Luck was born.

Craig and Kirsten.PA REAL LIFE/COLLECT

The charity, which launched in May 2019, but is awaiting a registration number from the Charity Commission, helps stroke survivors team up with fitness and well-being professionals, to assist with their rehabilitation.

Craig said:

“A lot of stroke survivors suffer from depression or anxiety. They define themselves as stroke victims rather than as stroke survivors, which I try and help them to identify themselves as."
“For me, having a stroke was the biggest change in my life. If you can improve the mental well-being of people who have had a stroke and support them through physical rehabilitation, it is a way of turning a negative into a positive."

Craig and Kirsten.PA REAL LIFE/COLLECT

One of the after-effects is that Craig now suffers from neuro-fatigue, a debilitating condition which leaves him exhausted after completing certain tasks.

But, rather than wallowing in self pity, he devised a traffic light 'RAG' system to explain to his children what level of fatigue he was experiencing – a technique now used by other stroke survivors.

He said:

“When I'm at amber, my speech and thought processes slow down, I'll put words in the wrong places and my left side weakness will be more pronounced."

Craig post stroke.PA REAL LIFE/COLLECT

Craig recalled:

“When I'm in the red zone I can hear what's happening, but I can't respond. My energy levels are too low, so I have to go and rest in a dark room."
“There are certain things that will trigger 'red' like giving a speech in front of an audience, because it's quite a stressful situation. The length of time I'm in the red zone is dependent on what I'm doing. Sometimes I can get out of it by going to rest for 20 minutes."
“And a green activity would be something like listening to music."

According to Craig, the most successful stroke survivors are those who have a great team of people helping them.

“One of the key elements to surviving is having an 'A- team' around you which is what we, as a charity, want to help with."
“You are the captain of the A-team, which is made up of those people like family and professionals helping on the road to recovery."

Craig in hospital after the stroke.PA REAL LIFE/COLLECT

Craig added:

“I still get headaches, sickness and I suffer from insomnia and anxiety. I will never be the person I was before I had a stroke, but I feel healthier every day."
“It's taught me how to turn negatives into positives. I now know the importance of being with my family and of keeping things as simple as possible."

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We're all self-conscious about something, and it doesn't help when our faults get thrown in our faces. You don't want doctors hinting that something is "weird down there," nor do you want someone to tell you you're balding. WE KNOW.

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When you know your kids backwards and forwards, this is the best tool in your arsenal.

Getting our kids to listen to us is not always the easiest of tasks. They're willful and stubborn, but we've got a mighty weapon they are rarely prepared for: reverse psychology. Getting them to convince themselves to want to do something against their own initial intentions takes some work and a whole lot of creativity, but a little sneaky manipulation goes a long way. Here are some clever parents' tricks that are definitely worth taking notes on.

Redditor u/LeanderD Asks:

Parents of reddit, what's your best example of reversed psychology on your kids that actually worked?

He Floated His Idea Through A Back Channel


Wanted to name my boat. Anything I would think of was dismissed as stupid by my 13 year old son. After deciding on a name, I confided to a male friend my son liked. Made my friend suggest the name as though it was his idea. My son thought the name was perfect. Done.


We Always Want What We Can't Have

One of my best friends through childhood used to be punished with no salad if she misbehaved. She cherishes salad now and would always try to eat as much as possible during school lunch. Coincidentally, her now husband used to be punished with no books, it had the same effect. I think it's hilarious that they'd be hitting the salad bar and library like some black market their narc parents couldn't reach hahaha.


A Deceit That's A Cut Above The Rest


Don't know if this counts, but, at my high school (private, boys only) in the 1960's, they made a big deal about how long your hair was, and would occasionally order a boy to go home and "get a haircut".

I thought it was stupid, until years later, a master confided to me at a reunion that the policy was deliberate. The school figured we'd spend so much energy rebelling about hair length, that we would ignore other aspects of teenage rebellion. (Not?) Surprisingly, they were mostly right.


Damn! That's smart. Wow.


Oh they don't like long hair?

I'll show them. I'll grow my hair out as lon- what?! No I don't want to go "party"? I gotta try out this horse shampoo.


The Forbidden Book

Hi I was a victim,

There was a forbidden book that I was not allow to read on the shelf. My parents said I could only read it if I behave myself.

It was summer holidays and I was playing games all day (after 6 hrs of summer homework). One day I was home alone and had the opportunity to grabbed it. I read like half of it in one go. It was 5000 years of Chinese history.

Safe to say I was bamboozled.


Flowers Of The Queen

My parents always told me my broccoli were the flowers of the queen and that I really shouldn't eat them, or else the queen would get very upset! I, of course, ate the whole broccoli in a few seconds.


I'm telling the queen and she's gonna be pissed


Sleeping Beauty


I taught my kids when they were toddlers that no amount of yelling, shaking or hitting can wake a sleeping adult. The only thing that works is a gentle hug and/or a nice kiss on the cheek.

Edit: Probably needed some more details for the reverse psychology aspect to be clear. It went something like this - Step one, tell the kids I'm going to sleep and nothing they do will wake me (head buried face down is the safest position). Step two, after the initial onslaught dies down pretend to awaken on your own. Tell them you got a bit of nap left in you and nothing can wake you, especially not hugs and kisses.


Holy sh*t...if my daughter woke me up like this I would buy her a pony.


I am saving this comment because this will save lives if I ever have kids, stg.


A Walk In Someone Else's Shoes.

Split custody with my ex. When my son was around 10, he visited two weekends a month. I was waiting tables and didn't have a huge amount to spend, but he was so needy from divorce (and I'm not blaming him, it was ugly), he begged constantly for MORE when he was with me. Whatever more was, it didn't matter... he'd be eating ice cream cone and begging for teriyaki.

I finally realized that he just felt empty, and getting MORE whatever from me wasn't filling him up. His next visit I handed him $100 in cash and told him it was our food/fun budget for 3 days and two nights, and he was in charge of it. I bought him his own wallet to carry. We figured out how many times we were going to eat and what we were going to do, and he paid. He got to keep whatever money he had left...thought he was rich...then realized just how much everything cost. Well. Shoe on other foot then. If we had no money for food, we ate leftovers - and I didn't contribute more to pot. After a few weekends of running short or not getting something he actually wanted because he was foolish with funds, he started to really think about how to spend that money. He budgeted and kept to his budget. And a few times he actually went home with a little cash for his private stash.

Many years later, he thanked me for this. It really changed the way he thought about money and love.


This Is Worth Giving A Shot

Took my 3 year old son to one of those doctor's visits where he was going to get a shot. He was worried about the shot on the whole drive over, almost to the point of tears. We get to the doctor's office and a nurse subtly lets me know that my son is not just scheduled for 1 shot, but 5 of them in the same visit.

I turn to my son with an exaggerated smile and tell him, "Good news! They figured out how to take that one big shot you were going to get and instead break it up into these 5 little tiny shots so it won't hurt nearly as much!"

You could see the relief wash over his face. He stopped squirming and relaxed completely. He took the first shot and even smiled and said "It's true! The small ones don't hurt!"

We actually made it through the third shot before the effect wore off and reality kicked in. Still... I counted it as a victory.


Put This To The Taste


My mom would tell me she only lets me eat soup after candy and she'd only buy me candy that i didn't like. After a few times, i stopped trying and begged her to let me eat soup first. She gave me a smirk and told me go ahead. This doesn't sound as evil as it was. But trust me i suffered.


So what was the candy?


Mint chocolate, raisins, stuff like that. I still hate them to this day. Who the f--- thought while eating chocolate "hmm id like some tooth paste with this."


This is Truckin' Awesome

Mum had sworn a bit around the house.

When 4, while out at the supermarket, I said F word really loudly.

Very quickly and intently, she asked if I had just said "Truck" and said that was a bad word and not to ever say Truck like that again.

I thought that was the bad word so used that when being naughty.


The "Silly Mom" Routine

The "Silly Mom" routine.

My kid, and a few other kids I've known, would balk at getting ready to go. I'd grab their clothes and say, "Well, if you won't put on your clothes, I guess I'll put on your clothes. Cute shirt, by the way! Does it go on my foot?"


"Does it go on my head?"


"Oh, that's right, thanks! So, it must go on your legs, right?"


"I just can't figure this out! Where does this adorable shirt go?"

[kid grabs shirt and puts it on] ON MY TUMMY! SILLY MOM!

"Oh, thank you so much! Now what about these pants? Shirts go on tummies, so...the pants go on the tummy, too, right?"


[continue until kids have dressed themselves]

I would also do things like hand the kid my keys and say, "Alright, you're driving, I'll sit in the booster seat in back," attempt to feed the kid by putting a spoon up to his ear or his belly button, and attempt to put away his toys in the refrigerator.


Some Foot For Thought.


My mum would always yell at us "if you don't do X, you have to go to bed without socks!"

I never wore socks anyway, and I'm ashamed to admit that this worked.


That would work really well on my son, or make him cry for a really long time... He's 3 and over the last few weeks has decided that he is fully unable to sleep without socks on.


Toddlers man. Completely unpredictable.


I'm Greens With Envy

My mum had a friend that would put vegetables on her own plate and not the kids.

When the kids asked she would be reluctant to share, "that's grown up food. But I suppose I can let you have a little."

Her kids grew up loving vegetables.

I sat at the dinner table for 3 hours staring at the yucky cauliflower I refused to eat.


This reminds me of an instance when my child convinced my wife and myself to change our plans for dinner. We were in a grocery store to pick up something quick and easy to eat that we wouldn't have to prepare. Our daughter, wanted none of that, she demanded that she wanted a salad from the salad bar. We started to argue back, but then realized: "Our child demands that we feed her vegetables for dinner instead of a microwaved meal, why are we saying 'No?'"

We had salad for dinner that night.


The Power Of Choice

I don't so much know if you would call it reverse psychology, but I didn't realize it until my dad told me this.

When there were chores that needed doing, he noticed if he asked me to mow the lawn, I would complain and procrastinate. But if he asked would I rather mow the lawn or wash the windows, I'd pick one and just get it done.

Shattered my brain when he told me when I was in my twenties. I use it when I'm coaching or baby sitting all the time and it almost never fails.


The Boy Who Cried 'Ouch'


I've done this one with tens of kids. Any time a kid gets "hurt" (falls down on grass, gets gently hit in the face with a ball, etc.) instead of stopping the activity to pick the kid up and see if they're ok you just scoot them off to the side and resume. Within 10 seconds of not getting all the attention and seeing the fun is resuming they pop right back up and are magically healed.

This of course is only for the "injuries" that aren't actually injuries.


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