Rocco and Cecilia

August 07, 2019

It was about 3 years ago, and Rocco (82) and I were in the kitchen, when Rocco started speaking strangely and slurring his words.

We live in central NSW and it was a very hot day, so we sat down to eat fresh watermelon that we picked from the garden. Rocco and I live on a five-hectare piece of land, with fruit trees and vegetable gardens, and we love to eat food that we’ve grown ourselves.

As we sat Rocco kept touching his forehead and saying “where are the people” over and over, slurring his words. I knew that was a sign of a stroke, but that Rocco wouldn’t go to the Doctor or hospital without a push.

When he went outside, I called the local hospital and described his symptoms. Because we live practically next door, they asked me to bring Rocco in directly – it was faster in our case than calling an ambulance.

When we got to the local hospital, they tested Rocco’s blood pressure, and it was extremely high. That combined with my description of his symptoms prompted the team to call an ambulance immediately to take him to the closest Stroke Unit which is at the Tamworth Hospital. I followed behind in my car.

A brain scan concluded that Rocco had suffered a transient ischaemic attack (TIA) or mini-stroke due to his high blood pressure. He is now on blood pressure medication and statins. Rocco has lost weight and we are more active than we were before. Rocco just built a shed, we think that helped.

My advice is if you think anything is wrong, get to hospital. It can be hard if, like Rocco, your husband, parent or partner fights against getting help. Don’t listen, call an ambulance (triple zero 000) immediately.

Rocco and I have three children and 13 grandchildren, we are celebrating our 60th wedding anniversary next year. We’ll be celebrating our lives together, it’s a big relief he’s still here.

Rocco and Cecelia ready to go out on a Saturday evening