By Peta James on 12 April 2017
This Good Friday marks one-year since 28 year-old dad Alex Wright was struck down by stroke.
On the day Alex suffered his stroke, his wife Kathy and newborn son Jordan had gone to the beach for Easter, Alex was to join them later that day. Before heading to the beach, Alex went for a run with his dogs. Alex was a regular runner, he was healthy, fit and was hoping to one day participate in a marathon.
Whilst Alex was running he started to feel something was not right.
“I was unable to keep hold of one of my dog’s leads. The dog kept getting away from me. I was really dizzy, and I thought push through it just keep running,” Alex said.
At this time Alex was alone in a carpark. He started to realise something was really wrong.
“I thought I have to find someone, so I managed to run another 250 metres. I saw a lady in my neighbourhood and collapsed,’’ Alex said.
“I couldn’t move and sheer panic set in.”
A few neighbours came out of their homes realising something was wrong. Initially neighbours thought Alex had been drinking. However noticing he was having trouble breathing, they called an ambulance.
“I remember them saying to me ‘help is on the way’."
At the time Alex thought calling an ambulance was a waste of time. He was young, fit and generally healthy – the last thing on his mind was stroke.
“I remember yelling at them saying ‘cancel it’,’’ Alex said. In fact, all that came out of Alex mouth was mumbles. The stroke had left him unable to speak.
“I thought I was screaming ‘I’m fine’, but I was mumbling."
“I was trying to get away but I couldn’t stand-up, I couldn’t move my left-side, I was trying to get away crawling on my right-side,” he said.
Thankfully, the paramedics that arrived at the scene recognised Alex was having a stroke and rushed him to a nearby hospital with a Stroke Unit.
Here Alex received clot busting thrombolysis treatment, returning blood flow to the area of the brain cut off by the stroke – possibly saving his life. However, Alex’s outcome still appeared grim – he had lost movement in the left-side of his body and doctors were unsure he would ever walk again.
“Stroke wiped out the entire right side of my brain. It is a miracle I am not dead,” Alex said.
“I had suffered from a severe right sided hemisphere stroke, due to a dissection of my right carotid artery,’’ Alex said.
“The exact cause is still unknown; with some theories in the mix, mostly I have been told that it just came down to sheer bad luck.”
Alex paid little mind to the doctors prognosis, he was determined to walk before his son Jordan and set about his rehabilitation.
“I was very determined to get my life back to normal so I spent hours in my hospital room between sessions doing relentless exercises,’’ he said.
“I made huge physical improvements at a rate that surprised all of the medical team.”
Alex’s recovery is remarkable. Today, he is back driving, working three-days a week as a plumber and running.
“I beat my son to walking, I was pretty happy with that,” Alex said.
Alex still struggles with some weakness on his left-side and translating his thoughts.
“I put my ongoing recovery down to sheer determination and the support of a loving family,’’ Alex said.
“Every day I still am faced with challenges that are a consequence of my stroke, however I am determined to live life to the fullest and be the best father I can for my son.”
Stroke is one of Australia’s biggest killers and a leading cause of disability. It kills more women than breast cancer and more men than prostate cancer. Most think of stroke as an older person’s disease, however one in three of the 55,000 strokes in Australia each year happen to people of working age.
Stroke attacks the brain, the human control centre. Stroke impacts both physical and mental abilities. It happens in an instant, changing the lives of the survivor and their loved ones forever. There is no time to prepare for the journey ahead.
The Stroke Foundation partners with the community to prevent, treat and beat stroke. It does this through raising awareness, facilitating research and supporting stroke survivors. For more or to donate visit www.strokefoundation.org.au.