Long road to re­cov­ery from stroke

Central Leader - - News - By Scott Mor­gan

Life is slowly re­turn­ing to nor­mal for stroke sur­vivor Betty Soi.

She suf­fered a stroke in July last year, aged 31, af­ter a blood clot formed in her brain be­cause of an in­fec­tion.

“I was at work set­ting up one of my ma­chines and then couldn’t feel my left hand,” she says.

“I sat down, then tried to get up and my left leg gave way.”

Af­ter months of an­tibi­otics to clear the in­fec­tion that caused the clot, and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion to learn to walk again, the One­hunga res­i­dent de­cided to re­gain her in­de­pen­dence.

“In July this year I re­alised I’m not 100 per­cent, but just be­cause I’ve got a dis­abil­ity shouldn’t stop me from liv­ing the dreams I want,” she says.

Ms Soi se­cured a part-time job at the Ton­gan Youth Trust as an ad­min­is­tra­tive as­sis­tant.

She was helped by em­ploy­ment ser­vice Work­bridge and the Stroke Foun­da­tion, who mark Stroke Aware­ness week this week.

She says the chance to get out and do some­thing has done her the world of good.

“When all my fam­ily would leave me alone in the house I’d start cry­ing.”

While she still has some trou­ble walk­ing and is on med­i­ca­tion to pre­vent seizures, Ms Soi says she is grate­ful there were no other com­pli­ca­tions caused by her stroke.

The 32-year-old hopes to be able to in­crease the hours she works as her health im­proves.

Stroke Foun­da­tion North­ern Re­gion chief ex­ec­u­tive Rex Paddy says the num­ber of younger peo­ple suf­fer­ing from strokes has in­creased in re­cent years.

Fac­tors range from blood clots to abus­ing sub­stances such as drugs and al­co­hol.

Symp­toms can in­clude one side of the face droop­ing, weak­ness on one side of the body and slurred speech.

Mr Paddy urges any­one who thinks they’re hav­ing a stroke to go straight to hospi­tal for treat­ment.

“If they get to hospi­tal with- in three hours they can have scans and tests done to find out if it’s a block­age born at­tack or bleed­ing.”

The foun­da­tion em­ploy re­gional of­fi­cers to ad­vo­cate with gov­ern­ment de­part­ments on be­half of the stroke vic­tim so they get the sup­port they’re en­ti­tled to.

They also pro­vide stroke clubs to help peo­ple so­cialise and sub­sidise ar­eas such as trans­port and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion to help suf­fer­ers live a nor­mal life.

Stroke Foun­da­tion col­lec­tors will be on the street this week. For more in­for­ma­tion visit www.stroke.org.nz.

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

New be­gin­nings: Stroke sur­vivor Betty Soi is slowly get­ting her in­de­pen­dence back with a part-time job at the Ton­gan Youth Trust in One­hunga.

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