Not a Pollyanna Day

May 06, 2021

By Tracey Laverick 

My husband Mark is a ‘stroke victim’. I use the word victim, as stroke is our enemy, and it strikes Mark whenever it pleases.

Stroke lulls us into a false sense of calm. It has us thinking things are getting better, and then BAM, it smashes Mark again.

Here are the dates of Mark’s strokes, and a little on the impact that they have on him, and us as a family:

  • May 13, 2002 - It starts, and he’s only just turned 40 years old.
  • January 1, 2011 - Stroke attacks on New Year's Day. It’s massive, and robs Mark of his speech, thinking and cognition, and confines him to a wheelchair.
  • February 22, 2011 - Mark moves to a private rehab facility after being treated in a public hospital. Moving to a private facility feels like we’ve gone from a backpackers stay to a penthouse.

The public system in regional NSW let us down immeasurably in the early part of our stroke journey. That is, until I learned the ropes and began to advocate for Mark effectively.

As Kelly, one of the ‘Stroke Wives’ says, “this ain’t our first rodeo!”

May 25, 2011 - After five months in hospital, Mark came home. It was the first State of Origin for the season, and we celebrated this day in front of the TV.

December 2, 2018 - Mark had his third stroke. This thief robs more from Mark. The impact changes our intimate relationship, which breaks my heart. Although, we’re still a partnership, and Mark’s beautiful, positive outlook on life is unaffected.

Mark before his last stroke

March 19, 2021 -  WTF! Leave my husband alone!!

I have no more tears to shed. I am furious in every cell of my body. I feel stretched and ready to combust. This time, stroke takes more of Mark’s vision, and sadly, the complete loss of sight is in his unaffected eye, which we had called his super see-er.

It’s now harder to for him to get around inside our house, and we’re missing plaster off the walls in every room, but he can still watch a footy match if positioned correctly.

I have chosen not to tell Mark that he’s had another stroke. It is too upsetting for him, and he already knows he’s being picked apart by this bastard of a disease. These two photos of my husband were taken this year, within a few months of each other.

Mark after his last stroke  

I feel guilty about how angry I am. Mark isn’t - can I give myself permission to be?

I feel gutted about a decision that I had to make for both of us, which was to put DNR (do not resuscitate) on his file. I am angry that stroke has forced our hand with this.

Stroke is a nightmare for us, one that we’re not waking up from. It’s cruel, but we’re fighting back. We will take each day as it comes, and love and cherish one another.

Today, it isn’t a Pollyanna Day for me. I am not hopeful, I am not strong, I am feeling defeated.

I understand “it’s ok to not be ok”, and I am getting the professional support that I need to be strong for Mark and our family.

I honestly don’t know where Mark’s strength comes from. It blows me away.  I wish everyone who is reading this could meet him – he is exceptional.

Me, I am going to cry, scream and kick, go see my councilor, and have a cuppa with some wives who get what we’re going through.

Stroke is awful. I hate stroke, it better not show it’s face again.

Hi there, I truly hope that you get something from reading this. I hope that if you know this feeling, that you have the support and help that you need. If you don’t, please call ….

Also, if this touched you, I would love to hear your story. - Tracey #strokewivesclub

If you're in crisis, please call LifeLine on Call 13 11 14