May 27, 2015
My name is Garry and I am a construction worker and this is a short story about my stroke.

I did not have any of the normal risk factors. I had low cholesterol, I was not overweight, had normal blood pressure, low pulse rate, I was a non-smoker and only a moderate drinker.

My mum would often tell me about grandad’s stroke and I would get a medical every year that always showed me as low risk. I never once suspected that I was a stroke risk. The only risk factor I had was that grandad had a stroke at about’ the same age as me.

Last year my wife Debbie and I had been married 25 years. Our three children were young adults and could take care of themselves.  We thought that right now would be a good time to go to Europe while we still had good health.

I had been a marathon runner and a triathlete for 30 years and was still fit.

We were going to fly out to London on Sunday the 17th April 2011.

On the morning of Thursday 14th April I got on my bike to ride down to Ashfield station with the thought that there is only two days of work to go until we are on holiday.

I parked my bike in the bike stand but for some reason I could not do up the bike lock. I began walking over the road and it is hard to put into words but limbs on my right side of my body gave out and I fell onto the road. There was no one around. I got over to the bus stop seat and knowing something was wrong phoned my wife. The time was 5.11am.

My wife arrived in the car about 10 minutes later and as I could not get up her “First Aid” training was used.

She remembered “F. A.S.T.”

Face, Arms, Speech, and Time and phone 000 for an ambulance. I can remember her words.

“I think my husband is having a stroke”.

The ambulance had me at the RPA (Royal Prince Alfred) hospital 45 minutes after my stroke.

I was taken for a CT scan. I understand that was to check what kind of stroke I had. As I understand it I had a dissection of the carotid artery. I had a tear to the innermost lining of the arterial wall that clotted and blocked the blood supply to the brain. It could have been caused by a knock to the neck area.

My wife and I were told that as I had made it to hospital within three hours of the onset of symptoms I could get the “clot buster drug” and I should have a full recovery.

After two days in intensive care and at times a bit of a blur and at other times being very scared I was moved to the general ward. I was told I was in the lucky 10% because I got to the hospital F.A.S.T and I should have a full recovery.

I met the rehabilitation team that involved speech, physical and occupational therapy.

I took a positive outlook to rehab and after returning home after four weeks in hospital I set up my own rehab area in the back yard. I worked on it for about four hours a day every day and put in the hard yards.

I managed to return to work part time three months to the day after my stroke.  I finished the “City to Surf” fun run as part of “Team Stroke Survivor” and I am now back at work full time.

I sometimes wonder what I would be like now if I did not made it to the hospital FAST. I could be disabled and have to use a walking stick, or be in a wheelchair and my speech could be much worse.

I have been able to return to normal life again because my lovely wife “Debbie” remembered F.A.S.T. (face, arm, speech and time) from her First Aid training and phoned 000.

Join Garry in the fight against stroke here.