Lucky to be Alive

Morrin Cornes has a piece of his skull buried in the garden. It’s a reminder of how close he came to dying from a rare form of stroke recently.

“Put it this way, the rescue chopper pilot told my wife to say goodbye to me,” he says.

You can watch Morrin talking about his stroke in the Waikato Times.

Hamilton resident Cornes thought strokes were something that happened to old people.

“I never thought I could be at risk of stroke at 45,” he says. “Maybe heart attack or something, but this has come out of the blue.”

Sales rep Cornes was in Whangarei on business last month when one morning he found he couldn’t get out of bed.

“I call it vertigo. I just couldn’t move, didn’t have any coordination. I called out to the hotel manager to call 111,” he says.

Spreading awareness - Stroke Foundation NZ

Cornes was taken to Whangarei Hospital, and his family arrived that afternoon.

“Things seemed to settle down,” Cornes says. “But the next day all hell broke loose.”

Concerned doctors called Morrin’s wife Trudi back to the hospital.

“They were standing round him, he was shaking and his eyes were rolled back in his head. One of the doctors told me they were transferring him to Auckland, but I should know that he probably wasn’t going to make it.”

Cornes’ condition had deteriorated rapidly and he was flown by helicopter to Auckland Hospital. To alleviate the swelling on his brain, surgeons cut out a piece of his skull and put him in an induced coma for three days.

He’d had a cerebellar stroke, which only occurs in around two percent of stroke cases.
After coming out of the coma, the father of a five-year-old girl says he was extremely confused, had no balance and was vomiting.

Spreading awareness - Stroke Foundation NZ

But after a week and a half in hospital he was back in his Flagstaff home. The only noticeable after-effect now is trouble with his balance.

“I definitely feel lucky to be alive,” Cornes says.

The cause of the stroke is a bit of a mystery he says.

“I could have exercised and eaten better, but I’m not a smoker and only a social drinker.”

Now he wants to spread the word that stroke doesn’t just happen to old people.

“No one should feel bulletproof. I certainly never thought it would happen to me. So learn what you can about stroke.”

Cornes is now hoping to return to work soon, from home at first until he’s cleared to drive again.

Stroke Foundation CEO Mark Vivian says Morrin’s message that no one can feel complacent about stroke is spot on.

“Stroke can happen at any age, any time, to anyone. A healthy lifestyle and blood pressure checks are your best defence, but knowing the symptoms and calling 111 are crucial too.

The FAST message (Face, Arm, Speech, Take action – call 111) message is the best way of detecting most stroke symptoms and we strongly urge everyone to learn it. You could be a life-saver.”

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