Children tell of struggle after dad's life changing brain injury

DAD of five Rod Soper suffered a debilitating stroke last year that changed his life. His children share their experience of caring for and watching a loved-one struggle recover from a stroke. 

FULL STORY | 'Traumatic': Sudden stroke changes Gladstone family's life

Rod Soper's daughter Shannon

A YEAR on and, as the excitement of each milestone (eating real food, walking, coming home) subsides, a whole new set of concerns begins to arise. As we settle back into the normality of our own lives and get busy as everyone does there comes a moment of complacency where we lose sight of the struggle that continues to go on as our father and mother fully come to terms the new normality.. The concern for everyone's mental wellbeing grows as boredom, frustration and the reliance on others continues.

Shannon Soper
Shannon Soper Campbell Gellie

Rod's son Bruce

BEING the one who realised my dad had a stroke was quite surreal. I don't think he realised at the time. He spent a lot of time in hospital, which was hard, to see dad laying there unable to do anything for himself and having to help feed him. The day dad got out of hospital was amazing. To see him walking (using an aid) up the driveway with a big grin on his face was when we knew he was definitely getting better, which was a massive achievement and made us all very proud to have him as our dad.

Bruce Soper
Bruce Soper Campbell Gellie

Rod's daughter Rebecca

WHEN I got the phone call I went numb. It didn't seem real until I saw him in the hospital. He didn't look like dad. He wasn't the strong superhero that rarely got sick. Throughout the first couple of months I only ever thought of how mum must have felt, how she was coping. It wasn't until dad's rehab started that I realised how it had affected him. He got frustrated quickly. Surely it could not be easy for him to have his kids spoon feeding him, asking him to repeat himself, have him write what he was trying to say because his speech was slurred. Losing your independence, your way of life like that, is not what you want to happen to someone you love.

Rebecca Burrows
Rebecca Burrows Campbell Gellie

Rod's daughter Donna

ONE of the struggles our family faced was the constant relocation of dad during his time in hospital. I could only manage a visit to Rockhampton once a week. Every time, he was shifted to a different bed, the next room or another ward. This was stressful because of the lack of communication between services, the family and dad. Dad didn't know what was happening and I would arrive to find his belongings already packed on the end of his bed. We organised a communication platform where we could add information and update any progress or requirements. It got titled Dad Watch.

Donna O'Toole
Donna O'Toole Campbell Gellie

Rod's daughter Allison

When someone has a stroke, it's not just about the stroke itself. For me, the hardest part was the uncertainty. For example, what happens next, when and why. Keeping up with all the different things going on at once and trying to keep family life as normal as possible. Having young children, hospital visits stayed relatively short which meant only getting half the story but they loved seeing poppy no matter where he was. Dad having a stroke has changed so much of him physically and mentally but the one thing that hasn't changed is his sense of humour, and for that I'm grateful. He wouldn't be himself without his joke cracking and funny comments. The future still seems to have many unknowns and I've now realised that's okay, and to take every day as it comes, as each one will be completely different to the one before and the one after. It also makes you appreciate everything in life no matter how big or small, each one will create a memory regardless of its magnitude.  



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