Stuart’s fight against stroke

When he first arrived at St Vincent’s, Stuart Widdison, could not walk or talk.  At just 47, he had suffered a severe stroke, and his future looked bleak.

But this is a story of a patient with a fierce determination to recover, and the staff who supported every step of that journey. Stuart counts himself lucky to have come to St Vincent’s.

“I got up in the night and I found it difficult to gain my balance. I thought nothing of it until I woke the next morning. To my horror I couldn’t feel or move anything down my left-side.  I managed to roll over but fell out of bed.”

“Home alone I lay on the floor all day. Unable to move or raise the alarm, I was helpless and very frightened.”

Stuart drifted in and out of consciousness throughout the day until his partner arrived home from work, many hours later.

Stuart’s case is especially remarkable. It is virtually unheard of for anyone to achieve such a level of recovery after waiting so long for help to arrive.

However, after countless hours in rehab and thanks to the determination of St Vincent’s staff, slowly but surely Stuart began to make progress.

As difficult as it was at times, Stuart impressed everyone with his determination not to give up.

Having watched his grandmother struggle after having a stroke, Stuart says he was living his own worst nightmare. “My grandmother suffered a stroke and her severe disability had a profound impact on me. I was determined to do everything possible to get back to a ‘normal’ life again.”  Not every stroke patient can have an outcome like Stuart’s. A stroke will impact people in different ways, and their needs and the equipment required to assist their recovery, can be very different.

Rehabilitation Nurse Unit Manager, Meaghan Mackenzie says, “one of the first things that happened when Stuart was admitted to rehab was that we provided him with an electric wheelchair.”

“Stuart’s recovery has been phenomenal, but it was the electric wheelchair that helped to launch him on his way. It lifted his spirits and got him started. After all, getting better is not just physical; it is also an emotional and spiritual journey as well.”

Today, Stuart is doing very well. He still faces physical challenges, but he is able to walk and talk and do things like take himself into the city. And he attributes his mobility and his renewed joy of living to the care he received at St Vincent’s.

“St Vincent’s helped me regain my independence, self-respect and humour. They re-trained me to do things for myself. It sounds like the simplest of things, but regaining the dignity to go to the toilet on my own was a huge step.”

In the rehabilitation unit our dedicated nurses and specialist staff would like to see every patient recover as well as Stuart. To do that, they need to ensure all patients have access to the equipment they need.

The St Vincent’s Hospital Appeal aims to raise funds to purchase additional equipment items from their ‘Wish List’ to meet the growing demand being placed on the Rehabilitation Unit.  These items will help to ensure many more patients like Stuart receive the essential care they need.

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