Stroke survivor: a mobile phone saved my life

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“Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” said 71 year old Elaine Madill, while recovering in Greenslopes Private Hospital from a stroke she suffered last month.

The determined Wondai resident said she was dozing in front of the TV while housesitting for her son in Brisbane, when she suddenly realised she couldn’t get out of the chair.

“I realised something was really wrong,” said Elaine.

She managed to fall onto the carpet and knock some items off a table, including a mobile phone, which her son Stuart had only given to her that week.

“I’m calling my mobile phone my lifeline. You just never know when it’s your turn for something like this,” said Elaine.

Elaine managed to call for help and said the ambulance arrived within minutes.

“I was at Greenslopes Private Hospital half an hour after having a stroke.”

She suffered a right basal ganglia stroke which initially affected her speech, voice, swallowing and caused weakness in parts of her body.

With help from a team of allied health professionals and the Stroke Unit at Greenslopes Private Hospital, Elaine advanced to the Rehabilitation Unit just one week later.

She is now able to move small distances with a walking stick and aims to eventually live independently.

Elaine wants to raise awareness about the importance of recognising the signs, with one in six people expected to have a stroke in their lifetime.

There will be more than 50,000 strokes in Australia this year alone.

Greenslopes Private Hospital Speech Pathologist, Katherine Roxas, said it’s important to bust some myths surrounding stroke.

“Many patients wake up with facial or limb weakness and return to sleep, hoping the changes will go away. All people need to remember to “Think F.A.S.T.”

This means:
• Check their FACE – has their mouth dropped?
• Can they lift both ARMS?
• Is their SPEECH slurred?
• If you see these signs, TIME is critical.

There are several lifestyle changes that can be made to reduce the risk of stroke, according to Greenslopes Private Hospital Physiotherapist, Kareen Stringer.

“These include healthy eating, exercising and quitting smoking. People can have regular medical reviews, as well as cholesterol and blood pressure checks.”

Greenslopes Private Hospital Physiotherapist, Claire Hole, said the recovery process involves a large team including nursing and medical staff, speech pathologists, physiotherapists, and occupational therapists.

National Stroke Week runs from 12-18 September.

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