Emma Pratt throws light on the Elsie&Tom story. It’s not so much waxing lyrical about creating a luxury candle brand during lockdown. It’s more personal.
Back in 2016, as a healthy 40 year old, out of the blue, I had a stroke. Full stop. That's what it did. Put a full stop on the life I had been leading. Changed the person I was.
Even after 4 days in hospital, my eyesight was almost non-existent. I struggled to coordinate my movements and couldn't walk without help. My speech was slow and laboured. The body I inhabited didn’t feel like mine.
I don’t suppose I’ll ever really grasp how traumatic it was for my family when it first happened: when there were no certainties that I’d ever get any better. I do know that they looked after me. Somebody was always there to help whenever I needed something. Whatever it was. Getting up. Having a shower. Eating. Going back to bed. That’s about all my life was in the early days.
Meanwhile, they took on everything that I’d previously done in the home. And I slept. A lot. This went on for months.
It’s painful for me to think about the impact my stroke had on my children’s and husband’s lives. And it’s also a deep source of wonder and pride. They were - they are - amazing. They were always there for me. And my dear mum. And my fantastic friends. They all rallied round to support.
It took months of rehab, determination, tears, and frustration to get me back to a functioning human being.
Six years on and I can now walk, talk, look after myself, socialise a bit and do a little work. But I still have chronic stroke fatigue and psoriatic arthritis.
Chronic fatigue is not – absolutely not - just feeling tired at the end of a busy day. It prevents people from functioning on any normal level. It's debilitating. I forget things. I can’t filter noise. I become easily confused. I can’t find the words. It feels like crows are pecking at my brain. I have to sleep just to give me the strength to prepare an evening meal, and sleep to bring back what limited powers of cognition I still have.
This video, “The Inescapable Reality of Fatigue,” sums up how it feels a lot of the time. It was made in consultation with stroke survivors.
There is no cure for chronic fatigue. Well not yet. Some things help alleviate it, but they tend to revolve around sleep and rest. Not doing things you want or need to do.
I have fewer productive hours a day than ever before. Each hour is precious. There are my family and friends. There is Elsie & Tom. And there is the support I can give, through Elsie & Tom to The Stroke Association and Dr William De Doncker of the Department of Clinical and Movement Neurosciences, Institute of Neurology, University College London. The research they’re doing may lead to a cure – and that would be amazing!
Creating candles provides me with a creative outlet. One I can manage. One that makes me use my senses. One that helps me to improve my concentration and dexterity. The first candle I ever made I call Bertha. It was horrid and tunnelled and just looks awful, but it was the beginning of something. The beginning of me being able to visualise what could be. Bertha is a reminder of my journey. I will never get rid of Bertha.
Some of the blends of fragrances I use really energise me. Most calm my fraught mind and relax my tense body. Boy, do they help me! And - even if you have no need to be energised, and no troubles to soothe away - I hope my Elsie & Tom candles will provide you with enormous pleasure. I hope they will light up your days, just as they have mine.
Please do let me know what you think of them, particularly if you want to wax lyrical about the fragrances!