Sur­vivor’s road­show

Stroke suf­ferer’s strong mes­sage

The Western Star - - RURAL WEEKLY - AN­DREA DAVY An­drea.davy@ru­ral­weekly.com.au

RODENY Hop­son was mak­ing a sand­wich and a cup of cof­fee when his life changed for­ever.

“I went to go over to eat it, and I crashed into the cof­fee ta­ble,” the cen­tral Queens­land for­mer farmer and truck driver said.

“I knocked bark off me ev­ery­where and there was blood go­ing ev­ery­where, I re­mem­ber say­ing to my­self, ‘I think I am hav­ing a stroke’.”

Rod­ney’s fears were con­firmed, and 7-10 days spent af­ter in the Glad­stone Hos­pi­tal, then a fur­ther four or five weeks of re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion at the Marta Hos­pi­tal in Bris­bane, he is still liv­ing with the im­pacts of stroke.

The fam­ily farm, which was si­t­u­ated out­side of Ubobo, has been sold and daily tasks, like eat­ing a piece of steak, can be chal­leng­ing.

De­ter­mined to raise aware­ness of stroke, Rod­ney has planned a tour across the Queens­land out­back.

He is set to clock up some se­ri­ous kilo­me­tres as part of Na­tional Stroke Week, driv­ing from Bluff to Win­ton.

He will stop in at com­mu­ni­ties along the way shar­ing his ex­pe­ri­ence and rais­ing stroke aware­ness.

“It’s been seven years since my stroke and I will be hon­est with peo­ple about the im­pact it has had on my life, on my loved ones and my busi­ness – which I had to give up,” he said.

Rod­ney has lost some move­ment in his left arm and left leg.

“If you bought me a schooner of beer, and I walked down the street with it, it would be empty be­fore got back. Be­cause my left hand couldn’t hold it still for long enough,” he said.

Rod­ney has la­belled the drive Rod­ney’s Road­show and said he was look­ing for­ward to tak­ing vi­tal health mes­sages to re­gional Queens­lan­ders.

“I was a truck driver and a farmer for a long time,’’ Rod­ney said.

“I’ve seen a huge gap be­tween stroke treat­ments avail­able to city, coastal and coun­try peo­ple.”

A re­cent Stroke Foun­da­tion re­port found peo­ple in ru­ral and re­gional ar­eas were 19% more likely to suf­fer a stroke.

Re­gional and ru­ral Aus­tralians were also likely to suf­fer poorer out­comes from stroke due to lim­ited ac­cess to best-prac­tice treat­ment and care.

“This is a wor­ry­ing sit­u­a­tion. The best thing for coun­try peo­ple to do is to look af­ter their health and try to pre­vent hav­ing a stroke,’’ Rod­ney said.

Stroke Foun­da­tion ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Stroke Ser­vices Toni Aslett said stroke can be pre­vented.

“Stroke is largely pre­ventable. Lit­tle things can make a big dif­fer­ence in re­duc­ing your stroke risk. Mon­i­tor and man­age your blood pres­sure to en­sure it is not high, don’t smoke, ex­er­cise reg­u­larly, eat healthy and don’t drink too much al­co­hol,’’ she said.

I re­mem­ber say­ing to my­self, ‘I think I am hav­ing a stroke’.

— Rod­ney Hop­son

PHOTO: IRENE DOWDY

SPEAK­ING OUT: Rod­ney Hop­son is de­ter­mined to raise aware­ness of stroke and stroke preven­tion in coun­try ar­eas.

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