TDHS National Stroke Week Faye Searle

Not even a life changing stroke can wipe the smile of Faye’s face

“I can’t cut pumpkin,” Faye Searle says with a laugh when asked what limitations she still has nearly 13 years after suffering a stroke.

The response is typical of Faye’s incredible determination to ‘do the work’ and live life to the fullest.

Of course, there’s other things like driving a car that she can also no longer do, but Faye doesn’t really focus on what she can’t do.

Instead her infectious attitude for life, health and fitness and a fierce can-do attitude has her constantly training her body to cope as best it can with paralysis down her right side.

She agreed to tell her story to help mark National Stroke Week from August 31 to September 7.

Faye was 47 when the stroke occurred with absolutely no warning. It was 6am, she was driving her car and ran off the road near Kennedy’s Creek.

“I thought it might have been something wrong with the car – I remember thinking that. The car was hanging over an embankment and a neighbour came and pulled me out,” she said.

“The ambulance took me to Timboon hospital. They knew that it was a stroke because my face had dropped, I couldn’t use my right arm and my right leg was no good as well.

“Three hours later I was taken to Warrnambool. I was there for nine weeks and two days.”

For years now Faye has attended Strength Training – one of the many group exercise classes run by Tracey Heeps at Timboon and District Healthcare Service.

Tracey said Faye was fit, incredibly motivated and worked hard to maintain quality of life.

“She went into her episode twelve and a half years ago really fit and that sustained her to be able to do her rehab and come out the other side like she has,” Tracey said.

Faye said ‘frustration’ was the word that best summed up living with stroke symptoms.

“I had to learn to talk again, walk again. I did lots of physical work in Warrnambool and speech every day and then we started to see some progress,” she said.

“I was always a right hander, so I had to learn to write left-handed and do everything left-handed. My husband Gary got a breadboard and put nails in it for me to hold vegetables and things like that so I could cut them. You just learn to deal with it.”

Now 59, Faye regularly visits the Colac pool and laughs about using a “not very elegant doggy paddle” to swim 40 laps of the pool.

“If you have a stroke, you have to just exercise, put in the work and keep working. Don’t sit down and do nothing. I try and do everything I used to do.”

TDHS provides a range of services that might be helpful for those that have had a stroke: Speech, Exercises/Physio, Continence, Home Help/Maintenance, Community Transport, Meals on Wheels, Occupational Therapy, District Nursing, Dietitian. Please contact 5558 6000 for more information or to make an appointment.

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