Recovering from stroke

Bill Gasiamis is a stroke survivor. At 37 he thought he was bullet proof but he suffered his first stroke. Read more about his story here.

People tell me I'm inspirational but I don't feel inspirational. I feel lucky. 

I was 37 years old when I suffered my first stroke. The brain bleed severely affected my memory. I didn't know who my wife was, and I couldn't remember my name. I'd forget who visited me. I couldn't drive or email or do the simple things that we often take for granted.

We still hadn't diagnosed exactly what had caused the first bleed when I had a second stroke. They knew I was bleeding into my brain but initially we didn't know why. As I recovered, things slowly started to come back to me.

To look at me you wouldn't know anything was wrong but my head wasn't working properly. I was "spacey," my brain would compute things incorrectly, and I would get confused and cranky.
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Before my strokes I was a healthy weight and I ate well. I worked a physical job, with long hours. I blew off steam by having a drink and I also had the occasional cigarette, but I thought my health was under control. Now when I look back I realise that I wasn't looking after myself. I was always doing too much and not taking time for me.

Two years later I was going to a meeting for work when I began to feel like my skin was burning. This was the indicator that I was having a third stroke and it became apparent that I needed brain surgery in order to survive.

The risks involved were high but I knew surgery was my only option so I told myself that we would have a positive outcome and no matter what happened it would be for the best.

The affected blood vessel was four centimetres in from my ear, but when I awoke after the surgery, my left side didn't work properly. I couldn't feel my foot on the ground and my left side didn't know where it belonged in space. It was a surreal feeling, and disconcerting.

I spent a month in rehab to retrain my body on how to respond to my environment. My recovery is ongoing even now as the numbness is still there. It was hard on my family. My two boys were very stoic but I could see it was hard on them. My wife was incredible. It's not easy going from being a wife and mother to a carer for your husband as well. 

Bill and his wife having lunch together
I am now very focused on my health and wellbeing. I do light yoga, swimming and cycling because I cannot run. I really think yoga has been great for me, it's challenging for my mind and body. That feels good.
 
I haven't been able to return to work and that's very frustrating. Losing the ability to do the things I took for granted is hard. Even a simple job is challenging, and it's difficult to accept that things are different now but I'm coming to terms with it in my own way. 
 
My short term goal is to feel well enough to be able to find a nice routine, work a little, be comfortable with the way my body feels now. Then over time I hope to feel normal - whatever that is. I want to be a contributing and active member of the community. I don't have big goals I just want to be able to do the things I took for granted.
 
People really need to take notice of what their body is telling them. If you can do that then you have half a chance at staying in control of your health. You don't want to be in a position where other people are taking care of your health for you.

Bupa Therapy - A place for people with disability in West Melbourne

Need more resources for a stroke? enableme a website from the Stroke Foundation where you can talk to, and seek support from other people who have had a stroke. It is a place to ask questions, to find the answers that you need and to set recovery goals. You can also offer support, encourage others, and share your experience with stroke.
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