Sudden injury strikes QAL worker as he prepares for shift

ABOUT 350 people from the Fitzroy region go to Rockhampton Hospital each year after suffering a stroke.

For these people and their families, the stroke deeply affects their lives as every minute during the stroke they lose 1.9 million brain cells.

The recovery is exhausting for everyone involved as is getting used to the new lifestyle.

Gladstone's Soper family have had to deal with that after Rod suffered a stroke on Saturday, June 13.

As part of Stroke Week, Rod's family has written about how that day changed their lives.

Rod Soper had a stroke on June 13, 2015 and after a year of hard work has been able to regain a lot of the use of his left side.
Rod Soper had a stroke on June 13, 2015 and after a year of hard work has been able to regain a lot of the use of his left side. Debbie Soper

Rod's wife Debbie

Stroke awareness did not enter Rod Soper's mind until he had a significant ischaemic stroke on Saturday, June 13, 2015.

As he readied himself for night shift at QAL, his speech started to slur and he could not hold his cup of coffee steady in his left hand.

From that time on our family commenced the frightening and traumatic journey with a husband, father and grandfather diagnosed three days later as having had a stroke. Tests revealed his right carotid artery was rather blocked that led to left sided muscle weakness and other difficulties. His left sided neglect meant his brain did not recognise that the left side of his body was not working and he was so frustrated at not being able to move or do anything. It was extremely debilitating at that time.

He spent 65 days between three different hospitals undergoing care and rehabilitation to start with. The following months of home activities were draining and frustrating. The whole family, extended family and friends pitched in to assist round the clock once he came home. His and our world had changed forever.

The hard work really began in earnest with appointments constantly and re-evaluating what was helpful and what was not. Sometimes it was to come up with our own ideas and strategies as service supports were limited.

The word "carer" was not mentioned by the doctor. He used the word "coach". So as his wife my role changed and added a few more titles, including the ones that were usually expected, including an employee who still maintained a work role.

I now had to support my husband as a learner of new things. I needed to keep him focused on all of his tasks, exercises and activities and come up with new ideas to keep his interest.

I was not sure how anyone was supposed to remain positive through all this and keep in mind what was really important every step of the way. Of course having high expectations were a pitfall but I had been given no experience or training with this coaching job.

Unfortunately, as sometimes it happens following a stroke, he had a few minor falls and managed to get up each time, until the consequence of losing his balance on September 8 this year he broke his hip and required surgery and further care and attention. His mobility recovery starts again. Determination is a hard thing to measure, and when the chips are down, it is with the love and support from his family for him to get up and try harder, face more challenges, Rod, we are with you all the way.



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