Up again after stroke

October 26, 2018
By Jeff White 

It has been just over a year since I suffered a stroke. As a fit and healthy father of three and a former athlete, a stroke was the last thing I ever expected. 
But I am one of the lucky ones.

Over the past year, I have been fortunate enough to get back behind the wheel of a car, return to work, slot back into family life, travel and enjoy watching my old club the Demons make the AFL preliminary finals. 

World Stroke Day is October 29, and the theme is “up again after stroke”. This can mean so many things to so many people, but it reminds us there is hope and there can be life after stroke. 

I was 40 years old when I had a stroke. A blood clot, resulting from a hole in my heart, travelled to my brain. As someone who had always been well aware of the strengths and capabilities of my body, this was completely out of my control. It was sudden and it was frightening for myself and my loved ones.

For some stroke survivors, “up again after stroke” will mean taking that first step or being able to lift an object. For others it may be being able to trim the roses, read to their child or even take the family to the footy. 

For me it is about enjoying life. I am grateful to be alive, I am grateful for my family and friends, but I am different. Stroke changes you. 

After my stroke and surgery to repair the hole in my heart, I had the opportunity to do some soul searching. Today, I appreciate everything I have in my life more than ever before. I focus on being a wonderful father and husband, and I don’t take one day or one moment for granted.

Recovery from stroke can be a long, challenging and at times isolating journey. There are good days and there are bad days. There are many goals to set along the way and the reward when you reach those goals is worth it, but it is hard.

I am not alone in this journey. Stroke is more common than most of us realise. There is one stroke every nine minutes in Australia – that is 56,000 strokes this year alone. Around 475,000 stroke survivors are living in our communities, most with some form of ongoing disability.

Advancements in stroke treatment mean more people are now surviving stroke. So what’s next? Next we need to ensure those treatments are maximised and all survivors and their loved ones have the opportunity not only live, but live well after stroke.

This World Stroke Day, I am joining with Stroke Foundation to remind fellow stroke survivors and their families there is hope and you are not alone. Stroke will try to bring you down, but you can get up again and you do not have to navigate this journey alone.