Doonside, Australia

I am now retired at the early age of 57, this is NOT because I’m so rich that I could afford to do so, but rather because of...

The Stroke

I was in Cambodia to train our local partners in the next phase of development.
The morning of the most important meeting I was to hold in Cambodia, I woke up with the most severe case of gastroenteritis imaginable. Consequently, I had to excuse myself just a few minutes into the main meeting with our partners and return to my hotel room. After emptying my stomach into the toilet bowl and washing my face I “fell over” and was unable to get up. I was lying on the bathroom floor, still holding onto the vanity tightly with my right hand; for a while I struggled to get on my feet, without success.

After some time it dawned on me that I must have had a stroke – though part of me would not accept that; I still just wanted to get on my feet, thinking if I could do that I’d be OK. I remember at one point I was walking along the edge of a cliff that faced into a deep valley. The valley was very beautiful with a river & lots of trees and rich vegetation; somehow I knew this was the valley of death. I immediately began to quote Psalm 23 verse 4 “ Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil” I realised that I was being given the choice to go into the valley, to accept death, or to stay behind. But all I thought to do was fight. So I did, I wrestled “with God” for my life. I couldn’t stand the thought of my Chris having to travel to Cambodia only to accompany a coffin home.

I was involved in the perfect ministry for me.

I had noted the time when I went to my room as 9.50am. I lay on the bathroom floor until 2pm. Such a long time with no medical attention – oxygen in particular – very probably contributed to me not recovering as well as was possible.

I had a number of people with me on the team, one of whom was living as an expat Canadian in Cambodia. He said that he would arrange for me to be taken to a good hospital in Thailand as the local ones weren’t very good.

Consequently, after just a few hours in a local hospital, I was air lifted to Bangkok by International SOS and admitted to an excellent hospital – Bumrungrad International Hospital in Bangkok. I was there for one week. During this time further tests were carried out and the diagnoses of a CVA (cerebral vascular accident) was confirmed. Two days after my arrival my wife, Christine, flew over to be with me.

Within 24 hours of her arrival the left side of my face had returned to normal.

A week later I was air-lifted back to Sydney for two weeks in Westmead Private Hospital, during this time I had daily meetings with the guy that Samaritans Purse got to replace me. I walked him through every step.

Then it was another move, this time to Mt Wilga Rehabilitation Hospital in Hornsby, Sydney. I was confined there for 5 weeks of prison & torture. I had physical therapy 3 times a day, but there was no improvement in my left arm or leg. I have been left with left side paralysis and still have violent spasms in both the arm and leg, I can take a drug for this but it makes me sleepy. So I choose not to. These spasms are quite painful and embarrassing, but I’m alive and enjoying being alive.

I became a “client” of CRS, the Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service. Where one is just another in a collection of numbers. They failed totally in finding work for me, but did have me retrained to drive, which I could not have afforded. Having a brain injury has many repercussions, some of which most people are simply not aware of; I cannot think as fast as I used to be capable of doing; I can’t always find the words I need; I can’t always get words from my brain to my mouth; I can’t remember people’s names; I can’t do most of the things I used to enjoy; I have bladder control problems; I find phone conversations very draining; I don’t enjoy driving anymore; I’m not as sweat as I used to be.

My hunt for work was a long and very painful process. I was determined to get back to work as I like work & the pension doesn’t cover bills. I began applying for jobs I knew I could do, admin assistant work, bookkeeping, computer work. But the discrimination towards the disabled is just terrible. I always openly admitted to having a disability, even though the law says I don’t have to, but having employed a number of people in the past honesty and personal integrity is important to me.

I kept up my computer skills, even arguing with an Occupational therapist that I did not want a special one handed keyboard as I wanted to be able to use any computer and not be limited to a special keyboard. I had my PC skills tested and can type 30 words a minute and have advanced skills in MS Office, I also have taught myself to design and build websites using Adobe Dreamweaver. Well, I was getting up at 6am every day and applying for an average of 3 jobs a day, before breakfast. I did this for 2 full years, before I met up with a lady I knew through our kids school. She ran me the following week and said if I was willing she would like to talk to me about some work. Well I have been working for the organisation she manages now for 19 months – in admin, but mainly keeping the company website up-to-date and building sites for other Community Service organisations, check it out

As a Christian I rely on my relationship with Jesus to get me through and provide the strength when I’m weak. I have a strong desire to encourage people and being on RedBubble has been important to me as an avenue to encourage. I also have a love affair with photography that goes back some 45 years now.

Generally speaking I would say do anything to avoid a stroke. If you are reading this and have a disability I want you to know that God didn’t do it to you, but is waiting to wrap His loving arms around you for He loves you 100%. Know this, there is NOTHING you can do to make Him love you more & there is NOTHING you can do to make Him love you less.

The smiley is always present as it reminds me to keep smiling.
God bless you
Max :)

Journal Comments

  • Courtney Goddard
  • Maximus
  • Chris  Willis
  • Maximus
  • Kofoed
  • Maximus
  • gothgirl
  • Maximus
  • Belinda "BillyLee" NYE (Printmaker)
  • Maximus
  • Dave Law
  • Maximus
  • Dave Law