Ever since Tracey Hockey had a stroke in 2016 at the age of 52, she’s been trying to get 18 months of her life back. With the help of her husband Steve and her diary, she’s been able to piece together a snap shot of that time but doesn’t feel a connection to the experience she went through.
At the time of her stroke, Tracey enjoyed an active life with Steve, working as a General Practice Manager at a doctor’s surgery, supporting her adult children and spending quality time with her grandchildren.
After resisting years of vertigo, her body finally began to show signs that something wasn’t right. Six weeks before the attack she started waking in the early hours with severe headaches.
On the day of the stroke, Tracey was at home sitting in her favourite chair when she lost all feeling down her right side and couldn’t move her feet.
“I was home alone when I had the stroke but thanks to my experience working at a doctor’s surgery, I was familiar with the signs and was able to remain calm. Calling Steve who was at work proved to be difficult as I could only mumble down the phone, which meant calling an ambulance was not an option,” said Tracey.
Luckily, Steve worked close by and raced home to take her to the hospital. From that day forward Tracey doesn’t remember a thing. According to Steve, she spent two weeks in hospital and then received rehabilitation support for six weeks at home.
"Steve didn’t think I would survive, but if there’s one thing I know about myself, it’s that I’m stubborn. If I want something, I find a way to get it, and that determination helped me grasp back my life and some of the skills I had lost."
The Hockey family had some experience with the effects of a stroke through a family member and Tracey always thought she would come face to face with the same condition one day. It was this understanding and acceptance during this time that kept her focused on achieving her goal of getting back to work, even if it was part time.
Heading back to work six months after her stroke was an impressive achievement and one that Tracey doesn’t remember, but it came with a lot of difficulties. She couldn’t drive or do more than one task at a time, and she couldn’t maintain relationships with friends or colleagues.
After struggling on for a year, Tracey realised that she would need more help than just those she relied on, especially if she wanted to redevelop her short-term memory, manage her fatigue, strengthen her cognitive skills, and improve her mobility.
Reaching out to MSWA and learning about the services she could access through her NDIS planning meeting got her excited about her future. Tracey now enjoys tailored MSWA services and support including counselling at home, physiotherapy, hydrotherapy, and social welfare at MSWA’s Services Centre in Wilson.
“The time I spend with my counsellor is worth its weight in gold. We work on small tasks each session and I feel I can breathe easier after our time together. Hydrotherapy has also achieved some amazing improvements to my mobility, and I have regained strength in my arms.” Tracey said.
Thanks to all of these achievements Tracey has built up her confidence to start travelling again and will set sail on a cruise at the end of 2019. A cruise she went on during those 18 months but can’t remember. Not one to miss out, Tracey insisted on going again and forming new memories to make it a year to remember.
“Life can be challenging, but when you come across something that is hard, you push through. It's always easier with the help of others. Never say never, especially if you've had a stroke.”