My friend’s stroke saved a life 42



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12 months ago, my dear friend Tess had a stroke.

She returned from a wonderful caravanning holiday through Central Australia with her husband Geoff, went to visit her much loved grandkids, felt “a bit funny” and was taken by ambulance to hospital unconscious.

The first time I went to visit her, I had a little joke with her that if she didn’t want to have a coffee with me, she could have just called – this lying unconscious was just too drama queen.

As people came to visit, they wrote in a journal her granddaughters started; so fitting as Tess wrote a huge number of journals over her life. Those who wrote in the journal wished her well, told her they were praying for her and wrote little reminders of times they spent together. Everyone took turns talking to her – medical advice was that she could hear us and that she would regain consciousness. It was just a matter of time!

Tess was named for St Theresa, the Little Flower, and was a woman of great faith, so I prayed the Rosary with her. I just somehow knew this is what she would have done with me if the positions were reversed.

Tess was a sociable person, she loved to talk, to laugh and to be with people; I feel her hand in the fact that sitting in the hospital, beautiful people, young and old, met other people from different areas of her life, some became friends. It goes without saying that a woman like Tess has a wonderful family, husband, daughter, son, grandkids and all the permutations and combinations of brothers, sisters, cousins and in-laws to bewilder the most avid genealogist.

Like most people I didn’t know much about strokes – an uncle had one when I was a kid and he spoke a bit strangely, but in my mind, strokes did not kill you, although recovery could be a long-term ordeal. I still don’t know much, but I memorised the simple signs of stroke – FAST:

  • Face – Check their face. Has their mouth drooped?
  • Arms – Can they lift both arms?
  • Speech – Is their speech slurred? Do they understand you?
  • Time is critical – If you see any of these signs call 000 straight away.

Sadly the doctors’ optimism was not realised; Tess had a brain stem stroke and not long after her birthday, decided she would join her parents and siblings in Heaven.

She still keeps an eye on things, though; recently I was with a woman who had a stroke, and because of FAST, she survived. Thank you, Tess, you are still working your special magic. What a beautiful friend you are, we are so much richer for your life.

Share with us your experience of strokes.


Karen O'Brien-Hall

I've had many careers in my life and loved each one! My new career blossomed when I retired and become an OAP. I am passionate about childhood literacy, books in general and my garden. I love Ballet, Opera, Concerts, Theatre, (both professional and community) and Movies. I tend to have opinions on most things and enjoy a good debate about the topic, not the person. In my thirties, I married my GOM (Gorgeous or Grumpy Old Man) the love of my life.

  1. My late husband had a stroke aged 39, then another aged 45 after which he never returned to work.He died at 55 having worked only 9 years since the first one.

  2. Nearly 50 years ago, my 47 year old mother had a stroke, she subsequently had a second one and died at 48. I still miss my mum

  3. I had a T.I.A. in 2006. And a small stroke 2009. Both signs/symptoms were completely different to one another.
    I was very lucky—but I can never forget/ The 1st one –I had such strong tingling ( pins & needles ) from my right foot/leg/thigh/arm. I was with a daughter in some shops—she found a seat for me –but I could barely lift my foot to walk. I sat for a few minutes—then started walking again & the tingling came back—–eventually got to a Doctor, who sent me to the hospital.
    Second one —everything was hazy, in my vision & unsteady on my feet—–ended up at the hospital to be checked over. This one showed a small bleed in my brain—so, I have been very lucky.
    Am on medication for the rest of my life now.

  4. My grandfather went to work…felt unwell….went out to car to go home….he sat under a tree near the car where he was found by workmates….he had a stroke…..he was 59. I had a stroke at 61 and again at 65… Very lucky to be here Dr has said……very thankful I can still be independent.

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  5. My mum also had a brain stem stroke she couldn’t talk couldn’t feed herself couldn’t do anything but a miracle happened one morning she woke up and the nurses were going to feed her she said what are you doing I can feed myself from that day on she got better and better and is now back to normal thank goodness

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  6. Lost my dad to strokes,he had his first at 65 followed by lots of small strokes (Tia’s )he was a very proud man engineer by day and musician at night till he retired,he finally died 5 yrs later unable to walk talk or do anything for himself,my mum looked after him at home and he died in his own bed,but a very slow and cruel death.

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