Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Stroke survivor tells story so others take precautions

It has been almost 20 years since Rochester's Edward Oogjes has a stroke and he wants other people to know what they can do to avoid one.

ELAINE COONEY April 1, 2014 4:20am

Rochester resident Edward Oogjes wants to raise awareness about strokes, like the one that left him with a number of challenges: Photo: Elaine Cooney

On March 2, 1996, Rochester resident Edward Oogjes suffered a stroke.

While he appears fit and healthy, he explained the hidden side effects, such as anxiety, frustration, memory loss and mental instability.

Mr Oogjes said publicity about strokes was getting better, but he felt there was not enough awareness about it.

Doctors told him his 30-cigarettes-a-day habit and high stress levels could have contributed to his stroke at the age of 46.

Mr Oogjes suggested people under stress should see a psychologist before it became too severe.

‘‘I definitely wouldn’t smoke again,’’ he said.

He said he would welcome a stroke support group in Rochester and more information to patients about the support available.

He said the carer support was important for his wife, Shelley Nichol, to provide her with adequate respite.

Mr Oogjes was a rigger and used to scale 20m industrial smoke stacks.

He worked around Australia and overseas and was doing some building at home.

One Saturday, he had a dizzy spell and had to sit down for a while.

On the Sunday night, he was rushed to hospital after suffering a stroke.

Mr Oogjes had tried to get out of bed in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, but he could not move his right leg.

‘‘I told my wife I couldn’t get out of bed,’’ he said.

She suggested his leg had gone to sleep, but soon realised it was far more serious and called the ambulance.

Mr Oogjes said he then felt his arm ‘‘go’’.

He said it felt strange because it was not numb, he just could not move it.

The hospital believed he had a transient ischaemic attackan early stroke warning.

Ms Nichol knew better and asked for a transfer to another hospital.

It turned out he had had five or six strokes in the middle of his brain.

After a day in the stroke ward, Mr Oogjes spent three months in rehabilitation.

He learned to walk and write again and had speech therapy.

Although his speech was not greatly affected, sometimes his sentences were not logical, he said.

‘‘I have to be very careful when I’m talking because expletives could come out.’’

Mr Oogjes said it usually happened when he was with people he felt comfortable with and he explained to them he could not control it.

After his stroke, he was told by doctors he could not work full time.

He works at Rochester Secondary School with the Hands On Education program.

When the students mimic his limp, he takes a light-hearted approach and can laugh at himself.

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