In November 2014 I was unlucky enough to suffer a bleed on the brain - a life threatening haemorrhagic stroke that has required emergency surgery, and has resulted in two infarction strokes since.
Before being taken to theatre my family and I were told to say our good-byes, the doctors were unsure if I was going to survive the operation and if I did, how I would come out.
To look at your child and say good-bye knowing it could be the last time you see them was devastating, and something no parent should have to do.
The right side of my head was cut open and a large piece of skull removed so my brain could be reached to stop the bleed. I had three clips attached to the main artery in my brain – they’ll be there for the rest of my life.
After the surgery I spent a number of weeks in the Austin Hospital in intensive care. It took a huge toll on my family, but my wife was amazing throughout - and I thank her for all her support.
The bleed occurred on the right side of my brain, so I’m left with constant pain on the right side of my head, reduced independence, and a lifetime of medication, occasional giddy turns, and depression in waves, co-ordination issues, left side defects, emotional liability, and constant headaches.
I attended rehabilitation sessions for a period of time and do physio regularly to help with my recovery. I feel fortunate to be back at work full time in a limited role as a secondary school teacher.
The transition back into work has been hard at times. The fatigue has really knocked me around. At times I have trouble getting my words out and to concentrate. It is coming up to two years since my strokes, I find the passage of time makes the transition a little easier.
I don’t think I will ever fully come to terms with my stroke. I am often reminded about how I have changed. My wife and others say I am not me anymore.
I hate that I now suffer from depression, I can’t do things that I used to be able to do. The constant headaches and the fear of it happening again is a huge challenge, and I have tried to harm myself twice.
My strokes could have been avoided if I had visited my doctor regularly for check-ups, and took my health more seriously.
I urge you to pick up the phone now and make an appointment with your GP to have your blood pressure and other risk factors checked. Do it immediately. No excuses. 40,000 Australians suffer a stroke each year.
Even though I suffered this horrible experience I still consider myself lucky – I am still here!