Rehab team helps Nathan defy the odds

March 23, 2023

When it comes to hospital stays, Nathan Bishop says his couldn’t have been any better. The Albion Park Rail father spent nine weeks recovering at Port Kembla Rehabilitation Hospital after a huge stroke in December 2020.

“I woke up and tried to get up, but I couldn’t move, it was like I was paralysed from my neck down. I tried to talk but nothing would come out. My wife Emma was 37 weeks pregnant with our second child at the time so I didn’t want to worry her too much,” Nathan said.

Just three weeks into his rehabilitation journey, his second daughter Mila was born at a hospital 25km away.

“The hospital staff moved heaven and earth to make sure I could be there. In my mind I was never going to miss it, and they made it happen, so I watched the birth from my wheelchair,” he said.

“When I arrived back at Port Kembla, the nurses and staff had decorated my room with balloons. They went above and beyond for me and that helped push my recovery along.”

Staff also decorated his hospital room over Christmas and even came in on their day off to farewell Nathan as he headed home from hospital.

“They lined the ward to watch me get up out of my wheelchair and walk out of there. It was amazing. To this day I meet up with some of the nurses for coffee, they’ve even watched my daughter grow up from being just three days old to a toddler.”

Stroke Foundation Interim Chief Executive Officer, Dr Lisa Murphy said the exceptional level of care should be the standard for all Australians.

“Unfortunately, we often hear about people’s negative experience when it comes to their recovery, so it’s heartwarming to hear Nathan received such quality care during his time in rehabilitation,” Dr Murphy said.

Stroke Foundation has launched a new prize to recognise hospitals and clinicians use the data it provides to continually improve patient care, and Dr Murphy is encouraging stroke units across the country to enter.

Dr Murphy said it’s a common misconception that strokes only happen to the elderly. She’s encouraging all Australians to know the signs of stroke by learning the F.A.S.T. acronym.

“Around 20 strokes a day impact working aged Australians, between 18 and 65. Nathan did the best thing possible and called for help at the first sign of his stroke,” Dr Murphy said.

“F is for face- Check their face, has their mouth drooped? A is for arms- can they lift both arms? S is for speech- is their speech slurred? Do they understand you? And T is for time- time is critical, if you see any of these signs call triple zero (000) straight away.”

Nathan’s message to Illawarra residents is to call for help at the first sign of stroke.

“Don’t hesitate, even if it does turn out to be a false alarm, you’re better to have had an opinion from a professional,” he said.

“I used to be embarrassed to tell people I’d had a stroke, now I’m proud, what’s the point in hiding it? My story might save someone else’s life.”