A Northern Rivers psychologist who had to fight three weeks for a diagnosis and advocate for his own recovery is calling for more support for survivors of stroke.
Dr David Roland was at home on a July morning in 2009 when his symptoms first began.
“At the time I was facing quite a stressful situation at work. I was repeating questions to my wife and the colour just drained from my face,” he said.
After being transferred to Lismore Base Hospital, David was eventually diagnosed with memory loss, or psychogenic amnesia.
“A CT scan didn’t show any evidence of a stroke and the doctors couldn’t find anything wrong with me, as I was able to walk and talk. I was then transferred to a psychiatric hospital, and fortunately the Psych wasn’t convinced it was amnesia and ordered an MRI,” he said.
Dr Roland was discharged from hospital and waited three weeks for the MRI – a more detailed procedure – which confirmed he’d experienced a stroke.
“I had to advocate for myself and fight for an outcome. The advice from the Psychologist was to go and see my GP who thankfully had some experience with strokes. Because of this diagnosis I was able to begin my recovery,” he said.
“I was given no specific treatment for stroke in the hospital, or once I was discharged. I ended up organising my own rehabilitation with the support of the GP.”
Stroke Foundation data has found one in four New South Wales survivors of stroke, just like Dr Roland, are discharged from hospital with no post-stroke information, and 16 per cent leave hospital without a discharge plan.
National Manager StrokeConnect Support Luke Hays says it’s time for the incoming Government to review and reset the future of post-stroke support in New South Wales.
“An investment now in raising stroke awareness and empowering survivors of stroke to make their best recovery possible will create significant change in the years to come and save millions of health dollars for use in other critical areas,” Mr Hays said.
“We believe every person impacted by stroke should be enabled to make their best recovery possible and be supported to return to work, study and family life.
“Regional Australians are 17 per cent more likely to experience a stroke than those in metropolitan areas which is why it’s vitally important that we can provide the same level of care across New South Wales.”