“You can’t take anything for granted and you should enjoy every day,” says Janette Daniel.
It’s good advice, and comes from somebody who knows.
In February 2013, the mother of three had a stroke. She was only 44 years old at the time.
She was work at Taree High School, where she was employed as a teacher, on the momentous day. Between classes, she ended up on the floor.
“I had an aneurysm that decided it didn’t want to stay still anymore, and it exploded,” Janette explains.
“They stabilised me and flew me down to John Hunter Hospital. It was while I was ICU down there was when I had the stroke.”
Janette spent a couple of months down at John Hunter Hospital before being moved to Wingham Hospital for rehabilitation. She was only there for a few weeks, she says, before she got to return home to her husband and children in Rainbow Flat.
Luckily, Janette did not lose any speech or language skills as a result of the stroke. She did, however, have to completely relearn how to walk again, and now walks with the aid of a walking stick.
“To this day I still can’t bend my knee or my ankle,” she says.
At the time she also suffered what is called ‘alien hand syndrome’ – a phenomenon where a limb will move involuntarily in conjunction with the sufferer feeling as if it does not belong to their body.
When Janette returned home she needed minimal care but still had to rely on others for getting around outside of the house.
“I could shower myself and I did have some therapists come to the house to do a bit of physio and stuff. But I couldn’t drive so I needed somebody to drive me around. So I’d get in Community Transport or rely on friends, especially when the husband left,” she said.
Janette’s husband left her three days after her daughter got married, four years ago. She had her two youngest children with her at the time.
“He decided that he couldn’t cope any more.”
Janette now lives in Tuncurry with her two sons, aged 18 and 21, and has a full life. She is totally independent again, having got her driver’s licence back two years ago.
One year after having the stroke, Janette became a member of the Great Lakes and Manning Stroke Recovery Club, and is now the treasurer. Going to the monthly meetings, going to monthly activity days and taking care of the club’s books keeps her busy.
The Stroke Recovery Club is a big part of Janette’s new life.
“You just get to talk to other people and you’re out and you’re not at home sitting around. And you can help people if they need it, and mentally they help you as well,” she says.
“This year we’re going down to Raymond Terrace for the Hunter Stroke Olympics. It’s where a whole heap of clubs get together and we participate in games, like dominoes, euchre, carpet bowls, skittles, quoits and putting.”
The aneurysm that caused all the problems is still in her brain, but it is not expected to cause her further problems.
You just get to talk to other people and you’re out and you’re not at home sitting around. And you can help people if they need it, and mentally they help you as well.- Janette Daniel
“I’ve now got a coil in my brain. It’s there basically keeping it still. I went down to the neurosurgeon in March this year because I had to have another MRI and he was quite happy with it. I don’t have to see him again for another five years or have another MRI for five years! That’s how pleased he is,” Janette says.
National Stroke Week runs from September 3 to September 9 as a health and awareness initiative. For more information visit strokefoundation.org.au.
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