A young primary school teacher has to re-learn how to read and speak after a debilitating stroke wiped her memory.
Alisha Malhotra, 28, forgot every word she knew, including “hello” following a severe stroke last year and felt like she was living in a bubble.
She spent five months recovering in hospital where nurses didn’t initially realise the extent of her injuries and kept telling her how well she looked.
The teacher now attends a speech and language therapy twice a week and describes first texting her friend as “the biggest hurdle of my day”.
Alisha, who was just 26 when she was struck down by the stroke, said: “Within an instant, I’d lost everything.
“I didn’t know any words; hello, goodbye, mum, dad – they’d all gone.
“I had no idea what had happened to me, and I don’t think I realised in hospital just how serious it was.
“I smiled and nodded to nurses and doctors, and everyone would tell me how well I looked.
“They didn’t realise just how much I was hiding behind my smile – I remember being so confused by everything going on around me.
“I have a head full of ideas and things I want to say, sometimes I think I can’t fit much more in there.”
Approximately every five minutes somebody in Britain suffers a stroke, equal to 100,000 a year making it the fourth leading cause of death in the UK, according to the Stroke Association.
Alisha, from Harrow, north London, is being treated for aphasia, a common communication disability caused by a stroke, which happens when the blood supply to the brain is cut off.
The former teacher attends a stroke support group as well as speech and language therapy where professionals have helped her learn to speak, read and write from scratch.
She said: “Having aphasia is like being in a bubble, you feel trapped in yourself.
“It’s all I think about, day in and day out.
“I even have dreams at night where I think when I wake up everything will be as before.
“Speech and language therapy has been a huge help to my recovery, but it’s really hard work. I’ve had to completely start from scratch.
“The Stroke Association’s local support group has helped me to meet other stroke survivors who are in the position as me, which has been really helpful.
“I’ve lost some of my independence since having a stroke, and even something as simple as texting a friend was the biggest hurdle of my day.
“I have to get busses and trains, and that can be so scary when you have aphasia.
“I’m so passionate to help raise awareness of stroke and aphasia now.
“I really want to help other people who are going through what I am, and to support the charity in raising awareness of this difficult condition.
“I am a fighter and I know I will get better, and I will fulfill all my dreams.”
Michelle Dalmacio, director of stroke support south at the Stroke Association, said: “After a stroke, around one in three people like Alisha have difficulty communicating, which can be both terrifying and isolating.
“But with the right help and support, many stroke survivors are able to find new ways to communicate, and can rebuild their lives.
“Alisha’s determination to get better is incredible, she’s a real inspiration to others.”