Episode 8 - “The Stroke Episode”
You’re listening to episode eight of The Pool Man Podcast - “The Stroke Episode”
This episode was recorded October 10th, 2019.
I’ve designed this podcast to give you all the information you need to keep your pool in tip top condition all year round, but occasionally I’ll have a special episode to deliver, and this is another one of those special episodes, it’s all about December 2nd, 2018... the day my life changed forever!!
The Pool Man Podcast is written and produced by me, and is intended as a guide only. I always recommend that you employ the services of a professional pool technician, should you encounter any problems you are unable to solve yourself.
Welcome to the eighth episode of The Pool Man Podcast. I’ll start out by saying welcome back to all the loyal listeners out there who were wondering where the hell I’ve been for the past 10 months, and why there was such a long hiatus between episodes, well I can assure you all that there was a very good reason why I haven’t managed to do an episode for a while…
I had a stroke!!
Now this episode will probably be part medical information, part personal diary and a whole lot of crazy stuff that’s floating around in my head, so strap yourselves in and I’ll tell you about what happened…
Way back on the morning of December 2nd, 2018, I woke up at around 2am with what I thought were the early signs of a migraine. Now for anybody who gets migraines regularly, as my wife and I do, you’ll recognise the symptoms as usually always starting with spots in front of your eyes, blurred vision, and then it progresses into a severe headache with nausea and severe photo-sensitivity. It really is the gift that keeps on giving… only this time it was different.
As usual I got the spots and the blurred vision, and trying to be pro-active my wife gave me a couple of aspirins and I went back to sleep. I was due to start a bar shift over at the club across the road. I was working at midday that day, so when I woke up I still had the spots, but no headache so I assumed it was a little one and hoped that it would pass and that the aspirin had worked with the headache.
My bar shift went a little crazy a couple of hours in when I was trying to pour some beers. A schooner glass dropped through my left hand and onto a tray below, but it didn’t break. I tried again and the same thing happened but this time both glasses broke.
Sadly It didn’t click that this may have been a bit more serious than a migraine. It’s only now in hindsight that I can look back and see how clear the symptoms really were.
Having dropped another glass I decided to take a run out to the tables in front of the bar to pick up some glasses, but I almost immediately smacked into a table and tripped over it crashing to the floor.
I hadn’t even seen it!!
I then proceeded to bump into a group of customers nearly knocking them over too, so I went out the back to have a short break, and one of the managers said I didn’t look well and told me I should go home.
Of course I said “No way!! It’s Sunday… can’t lose out on the penalty rates!!” So I sucked it up and got through the shift.
I walked home across the road, and by this time I had some pins and needles in my left arm, and some more weakness on that side too, but pins and needles are also a common symptom of a migraine so naturally I didn’t think too much of it, other than having the feeling that I probably would get a severe migraine soon.
So it was back to bed with some heavy duty pain killers to await the migraine I thought was coming.
I should have taken more notice at work when the left side weakness started, but hey, I wasn’t going home sick to miss out on Sunday penalty rates!!
My wife (Who is a nurse) told me to go to the G.P. first thing he next day... so naturally I ignored her and went to my first pool job instead.
She loves it when she’s right!!
The second job was back close to home and I wasn’t feeling too good by then. I knew I was about to drive right past the medical centre so I decided to drop in and see the doctor.
He took one look at me and said buddy, you’re going to hospital right now!! He tried to call an ambulance but I (As usual) ignored medical advice, took the car home and my wife had organised a friend to drop me at the E.R. instead.
A few hours and multiple tests
later I was admitted into the emergency unit of Liverpool Hospital and scheduled for a CT and MRI scan, and a day later the doctor confirmed that I had indeed suffered a fairly substantial stroke affecting the visual cortex of the brain.
The scans showed very clearly the area of my brain that had sustained the damage, and I was to stay in the stroke ward for the next week. There’s no getting around it... I have brain damage, and there’s no chance that it’ll heal. The brain just doesn’t do that!!
The area of my brain that controls and processes vision impulses that travel from the eyes along the nerves to the visual cortex, had suffered a blockage of some sort, which disrupted the flow of oxygenated blood effectively starving that area of my brain until it died.
As a result I have suffered a partial loss of vision in the lower left hand quadrant of both eyes. I failed my vision field test and the doctors advised me that I can no longer drive my work ute, or any car, which is quite a big deal when you work alone on the road!!
Now whilst the brain can’t heal itself, it can in some cases have the ability to find alternate pathways to get those signals through, and there is the possibility that you can regain some or all of that lost vision.
This however has not proven to be the case with me so far, and whilst I am hopeful, I am also realistic about the chances of that ever happening.
So imagine this... one day everything is going along fine and the next day your life is changed forever!! How would you handle that? I’ve suffered roughly 25% of (Possibly permanent) vision loss. It took me to a pretty dark place. A place I’ve never been before and a place where I had some feelings that scared the crap out of me!!
So, apparently depression is a thing!! And I reckon I’ve got it!! Wether or not it’s a direct result of the stroke is up for debate. Perhaps it’s something that I’ve always had and the stroke simply brought it to the surface.
I don’t really know, but I am fortunate that I have a large group of friends and family that have supported me in the absolute darkest parts of this journey.
Sadly there are so many people out there that don’t have the same type of support network that I do, and many of them feel that there’s no hope, or that their loved ones would be better off without them. I know this because that’s exactly the way I felt.
The stroke ward at Liverpool hospital is a very busy place. There’s a lot of very sick patients there, and people die every day in that ward. As busy as it is there, it’s also a very lonely place and you can really feel the sadness there.
Lots of family members begging the medical staff for information about their loved ones conditions, and hoping for good news when in reality there’s not a lot of good news to go around.
I was in the room when just outside the door in the hallway I heard a doctor giving a family possibly the worst news they had ever heard. There was an 18 year old girl, a marathon runner who was out training and unfortunately she suffered a massive stroke in the area of the brain that controls movement.
The thing I remember is the sound the mother made when the doctor confirmed how bad the brain injury was. I didn’t hear what the doctor said, but it was obvious by her reaction that the news was not good. I later found out that she was not expected to walk again. That really woke me up, and in a really sad way, it showed me just how lucky I was.
Yeah it sucks that I can’t drive, and yeah I wish it hadn’t happened, but holy hell it could have been so much worse than it was. You really have to look at the big picture when something like this happened and be great full for what you have, not what you’ve lost, because there’s always somebody out there who’s in a worse position than you.
A special thanks goes out to my father in law Ray who has stepped up and taken over the driving duties for me as well as my friends Fiona, Paul, Leanne and Taylor who all took days off from their own busy schedules, just to help me out. Your help was greatly appreciated!!
And finally to my wife Nicole, who has put up with my mood swings and grumpiness. Hopefully that’s all behind us now and we can look to the future!!
Feedback for this episode, I have none!! Given the nature and content of this episode I felt that feedback should take a break, at least until the next episode.
That’s about all we have this episode, but keep the questions rolling in and I’ll try to get to them all in the next episode.
The same with the Pool Man Podcast jingle competition, keep the entries coming and I’ll play the first contestant’s entry very soon. Remember I’m looking for something catchy, but not too serious!! Have fun with it and get your entry in and you could have your song become the official jingle for the Pool Man Podcast!!
This production was made by me and should only be used s a guide to keep your swimming pool clean and clear. I always recommend that you employ the services of a professional pool technician should you have any issues you are an able to solve yourself.
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