Mandurah stroke survivor says to ‘act and know risk’

A Mandurah man has shared his nightmare experience of having a “massive stroke” which left him fighting for his life, in the hopes of encouraging others to act earlier than he did. 

Richard Haley has called for the community to be aware of their risk ahead of National Stroke Week which runs from September 3 to 9. 

Mr Haley said there were no warning signs before his near-death experience nine years ago.

“I was 56 at the time and it wasn’t on my radar at all,” he said. 

“I was working in the garden with a big jackhammer taking an old barbecue to pieces, and in an instant I hit the concrete.

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“There was no chance for me to stop the fall…I had no idea what was happening.”

Mr Haley said he managed to call triple zero, despite having a “massive stroke”.

“I somehow managed to make it into the house and call for help, and make myself understood,” he said.

Mr Haley was taken to Peel Health Campus, where he drifted in and out of consciousness and experienced “locked-in syndrome”.

I managed to let out this scream and they realised what a mess I was in...

Richard Haley

“It’s where you can’t speak, communicate or move,” he said.

“Even though I was feeling very unwell, I couldn’t tell anyone because I couldn’t speak.

“People were walking past and thinking: ‘Oh yeah, he looks alright’.”

“I managed to let out this scream and they realised what a mess I was in, and got me into an ambulance, straight up to Fremantle’s stroke ward.”

Mr Haley said he proceeded to have a series of strokes while in hospital.

“There was very little chance of survival. But fortunately, the specialist knew a friend at Royal Perth Hospital who was trying a new surgical procedure,” he said.

Over eighty per cent of strokes are completely preventable.

Richard Haley

Mr Haley said he had a successful brain operation, while conscious in an MRI machine.

“I was very fortunate to survive,” he said.

Mr Haley says it is important for Mandurah residents to “understand their stroke risk”.

“Everyone is at risk,” he said.

“Mine was caused by atrial fibrillation, which means I have poor blood flow.

“One in six people will have a stroke in their lifetime and a third die. It’s a frightening statistic.

“The easiest way is to monitor your blood pressure, eat well, stay active, quit smoking and see your doctor for check-ups.

“Over eighty per cent of strokes are completely preventable.”

Volunteers from the Mandurah Stroke and Carers Support group will be holding a community education event in the Bunnings Halls Head foyer on September 8, 2018 from 9am to 2pm. 

For more information visit www.strokefoundation.org.au.