KEY WORK: Lismore Base Hospital stroke co-ordinator Kim Hoffman and stroke survivor Kelvin Stuckey are raising awareness of strokes and how to recognise them.
KEY WORK: Lismore Base Hospital stroke co-ordinator Kim Hoffman and stroke survivor Kelvin Stuckey are raising awareness of strokes and how to recognise them. Marc Stapelberg

Kelvin recalls an encounter with a killer

KELVIN Stuckey vividly remembers the moment he was woken in the middle of the night by one of Australia's biggest killers - somewhere deep in his brain.

"It was Anzac morning… 10 past three in the morning; dear oh dear, I'll never forget that," Mr Stuckey, 65, recalled.

"I tried to sit up in bed and I felt like I was drunk… everything was swimming.

"I tried to get up out of bed and I ended up on the carpet.

Eventually he managed to crawl to the phone in the spare bedroom and after urging his limp arm to pick up the phone for several agonising seconds, the message got through.

By that time, he was pretty sure what was going on. Having worked as an ambulance officer decades ago he had witnessed strokes first-hand.

"Suddenly I came good; it was explained to me later that the blood was getting past the clot so I was okay for five minutes. That gave me enough time to call the ambulance."

Minutes later police, fire-fighters and paramedics turned up - the police to authorize the firefighters to break into Mr Stuckey's Alstonville home in case he was unconscious.

Fortunately he was outside on his front veranda; he even had packed a bag.

Kim Hoffman, Lismore Base Hospital stroke care co-ordinator said Mr Stuckey was lucky he was able to get medical attention so quickly.

That might have meant the difference between recovery and permanent disability; such is the knife edge of stroke.

He had a thrombolysis - drugs to clear the clotting that must be done within four hours of onset but only in certain cases.

Almost four months later he has made close to a full recovery, although he struggles with skills such as doing buttons up.

"I'm frustrated with what I can do now compared to what I could do before."

A Stroke Awareness Display is in the LBH foyer for Stroke Awareness Week this week, with blood pressure checks 11am-noon.

About strokes

  • Stroke is our second biggest killer after coronary disease and a leading cause of disability.
  • One in six people will have a stroke in their life.
  • 80% of strokes are avoidable - it is a lifestyle disease.
  • More women die of strokes than breast cancer, and more men than prostate cancer
  • 20% of strokes happen under the age of 60, and children can also have strokes
  • Non-genetic causes are: blood pressure, high cholesterol, imbalanced diet high in salt.
  • If you think you're having a stroke or a family member is, phone 000 immediately as the chances of a full recovery decreases with time.
  • LBH opened an acute stroke unit in February that has led to 20-30% better outcomes.


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