Background and Aims: Return to work presents a unique transition for the person with mild stroke who is often unsupported and does not anticipate difficulties from hidden impairments. The aim of this study was to explore the return to work experience from the perspective of one person with mild stroke.
Methods: An inductive thematic analysis was undertaken with a narrative of e-mail correspondence from a person with mild stroke. The analysis follows the participant from three to six years after stroke during a process of upskilling and training for return to work.
Results: The female participant was 32 years old at the time of stroke and returned to tertiary studies after experiencing difficulties with initial return to work. Four themes emerged from the analysis of the narrative: I don't know which identity to choose, My anxieties and reactions, I need support and structure, and I am exhausted.
Discussion: The results demonstrate the impact of hidden impairments on the struggle to reconcile a past with present identity. The process of reconciliation was ongoing and dependent on work-based experiences that enhanced understanding of strengths and limitations, and required adaptations. The impact of fatigue on performance in work and non-work time was highlighted.