After a regular walk along the Mandurah Estuary in November 2021, Ann Guthrie returned to her home to find her 71-year-old husband Patrick (Paddy) unconscious on the floor.
Ann said it was a terrible feeling because she knew something was wrong but couldn't get into the house.
"I'd left my keys inside when I went for a walk as Paddy was home so my neighbour had to help me, and that's when we found Paddy unconscious by the computer desk he was sitting at only half an hour earlier and I called an ambulance," she said.
After being assessed by paramedics, Paddy was rushed to Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital where Ann learned from neurosurgeons that Paddy may have suffered a brain bleed or a clot. Four days later he was transferred to Fiona Stanley Hospital (FSH) for further assessment and treatment.
Paddy's diagnosis was a haemorrhagic stroke (bleeding on the brain) and he had suffered paralysis of his entire left side. For Paddy and Ann, it was a shock diagnosis.
"Paddy was healthy and definitely not considered a typical stroke victim, he was a non-smoker and didn't have diabetes," Ann said.
"Looking back, I think it was a slow bleed over a prolonged period of time because I did notice changes in his walking and gait."
Paddy laughingly said he was a typical stubborn bloke who didn't think to go to the doctor to get it checked out.
After ten days at FSH, Paddy was transferred to Fremantle Hospital (FH) for a further ten weeks to work with the rehabilitation team of physiotherapists, speech pathologists, social workers and occupational therapists to regain some function.
After the FH rehabilitation team installed ramps in their home, Paddy was able to return home in February 2022 to continue his recovery. It was at this time he started working with the South Metropolitan Heath Service (SMHS) Rehabilitation in the Home (RiTH) team based at Rockingham General Hospital.
Paddy said it was a seamless transition from the care of the FH rehabilitation team to RiTH.
"One of my FH physiotherapist's asked RiTH to meet at our house to talk them through what she had been doing and where we were at," Paddy said.
"Being able to communicate so effectively between what is essentially two different service areas to make sure things kept going forward was pretty extraordinary."
The RiTH team involved in Paddy's care included physiotherapists and occupational therapists, but social workers and a dietician were also part of the team. They worked almost every day with Paddy and Ann for three months and in that time significant progress was made.
"I went from being completely wheelchair bound with no feeling or movement in my left arm and hand and having to do rehab in bed, to now being able to walk with a walking stick and recently being able to lift my arm and move my hand," Paddy said.
Paddy also suffered with dyspraxia (difficulty in performing coordinated movements) and aphasia (a comprehension and communication disorder), which he still has troubles with occasionally now.
Seven months into what is expected to be a two-year journey, Paddy's progress is still growing exponentially and he is now enjoying half hour walks each day.
While he says he has a long way to go, it feels good to be hitting goals regularly. He has noticed small positive changes, which is a reflection of and credit to the amazing allied health teams at FH and RiTH who have worked with him.
"The teams have gone above and beyond in helping me to achieve my goals and we are just so grateful for everything they have done for us."
"They have been so awesome, professional, encouraging, supportive and of course cruel," Paddy laughed.
Paddy and Ann sincerely thanked everyone who was involved in their care.
"It is really important to acknowledge and thank these highly professional and caring health care workers," Paddy said.
"They will be leaving us better prepared for our ongoing efforts to continue with meaningful exercises and activities to enhance the changes they wrought."
Ann and Paddy are looking forward to celebrating their 40 year wedding anniversary together at the end of this year, after spending their 39th in hospital last year.
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