Bus driver and farm worker Ashley Wright describes the pain of the stroke he suffered in 2019 as "worse than being run over by a truck".
Its an analogy many people use without knowing first hand the actual pain of being hit by a truck, but Mr Wright was severely injured when hit by a truck as a child and he knows the pain of the stroke he suffered was worse.
Mr Wright owes his life to his wife Shirley, who realised he was suffering a stroke when he collapsed at their Haddon home in the early hours of September 9, 2019.
He woke to use the bathroom around 4am but collapsed with a crushing pain in his head. It was a stroke, but because Mrs Wright, a nurse, knew the symptoms she acted quickly and called 000.
Stroke attacks the brain, the human control centre. More than 27,400 Australians had a stroke for the first time in 2020 – that is one stroke every 19 minutes. Time saved is brain saved. Learn the signs today! https://t.co/BTeUaUL5Bj#strokeweek2021pic.twitter.com/NCSuysLXSR— Stroke Foundation (@strokefdn) August 2, 2021
Mr Wright, 61, remembers little of the following days and weeks but has mostly recovered.
The stroke has left him with a "shocking memory", some vertigo that is improving quickly, suffers the occasional headache and he "trips" over his tongue when talking toward the end of the day.
"If I look at other stroke survivors I'm doing exceptionally well," he said.
After initially being taken to Ballarat Hospital, Mr Wright was rushed to the stroke unit at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, with the ambulance driving the distance between the two hospitals in just 57 minutes.
"I don't remember very much about the Royal Melbourne Hospital only that all my girls came down and stayed near there to keep an eye on me because no one knew what was going on," he said.
After about a week at the RMH he was transferred back to Ballarat for more care before moving to the QE Centre for rehabilitation.
After his stroke, Mr Wright had to learn to walk, talk, and eat again.
Mr Wright is now one of more than 3000 stroke survivors living in Ballarat, and last year 185 local people had a stroke for the first time.
It's National Stroke Week 🧠— Ambulance Victoria (@AmbulanceVic) August 1, 2021
Did you know one in four people around the world will have a stroke in their lifetime? 👤🙍♂👤👤
We've partnered with the @strokefdn to raise awareness of the F.A.S.T. signs of stroke and calling triple zero early. #strokeweek2021pic.twitter.com/W4QPsrsfqh
Since his stroke Mr Wright has gained back his driving licences, but is alarmed that most people do not realise you lose your car driving licence for a minimum of three months after a stroke or heart attack, and heavier licences for six months.
He only found out from other patients, but in any case was not driving for more than six months after his stroke and passed a test to regain his truck licence.
The theme of this week's National Stroke Week is United by Stroke, to recognise all of the people involved from the moment a stroke strikes - the everyday Aussies who spot the signs of stroke and call triple zero (000), to the paramedics, frontline health workers who diagnose and treat the stroke and those who support rehabilitation and recovery.
Stroke Foundation Victoria state manager Eamonn O'Toole said when these groups work together, lives can be saved and disability from stroke can be reduced.
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"This National Stroke Week, I want to thank every person who plays a role in a stroke emergency," Mr O'Toole said. "That includes the person who recognises a stroke and calls triple zero (000), to the call taker, the paramedics, the doctors and nurses who treat the patient and the dedicated health professionals who support their recovery ... they all make an incredible difference to lives and improve outcomes for the future."
And he encouraged people to learn and share the F.A.S.T signs of stroke:
Face - Check their face. Has their mouth drooped?
Arms - Can they lift both arms?
Speech - Is their speech slurred? Do they understand you?
Time - Time is critical. If you see any of these signs, call triple zero (000) straight away.
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