Life after Stroke – Manuela Messmer-Wullen shares her story

“My stroke was one of those which happened during the night. I was already paralyzed when I tried, early next morning, to leave the bed.”
Manuela Messmer Wullen, Stroke Survivor


One day, being a successful business woman, traveling internationally and responsible for a department of 300 staff – juggling this pressurised work life with two young children at home, and a busy social schedule.

The next, facing a 6 week stay in intensive care, 3 months of hospital care, 5 months of rehabilitation hospital, 7 years of ongoing rehabilitation; in total over 12 years to return to an acceptably stable situation.

2 years into my long recovery, I made a disastrous attempt to return to work…

I could not remember what to do, I was not able to recognise the people speaking to me on the phone; my memory and concentration did not exist, my foreign languages had been completely lost. I was in constant pain and always fatigued. I had no self-con dence, always questioning: where have my skills from before gone?

I decided there was no option but to leave the company and so informed my boss. What a horror for my ego! I felt deeply depressed, furious, anxious, ashamed, isolated and totally useless!

However, in a great example of social responsibility, my boss said to me:

‘Stay with us, I trust you, I will support the rebuilding of your self- con dence. You are such a brave woman. Come back to your office, whenever you want, if only for one or two hours a day. We will set up together a new team working for you. They will learn to do your job and this will also help you to find a way back to reality.’ What a challenge and such a great offer!

Unfortunately – most of those affected by a neurological disorder – such as stroke – are not as lucky to work for such a sympathetic employer and colleagues. Many are forced to leave work during the most productive years of life. A huge loss for them; but also for companies across Europe.

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