Ricky Te Whare says going to the doctor because he felt ‘something wasn’t quite right’ saved his life. Ricky’s doctor found his blood pressure was sky high and sent him straight to hospital. When Ricky got to hospital, he learned he had had a stroke. He was 41 years old.
“If you’re going to have a stroke, hospital’s the right place to have it,” says Ricky. “If I’d ignored my intuition, and gone to bed instead of to the afterhours doctors, I would never have woken up. Because I was in hospital, they could start to treat me straight away.”
Ricky urges people to get their blood pressure checked. “The only way to know if your blood pressure is high is to have it checked. It’s a quick and simple test that could save your life. If you haven’t had your blood pressure checked for a while, what are you waiting for?”
Following his stroke, Ricky was completely paralysed in his left leg and left arm, and couldn’t speak.
He says he owes his recovery so far to his ‘awesome’ family, the support provided by organisations like the Stroke Foundation, and staff at the ISIS Physical Rehabilitation Service at Dunedin’s Wakari Hospital.
“The ISIS staff were marvellous, but I didn’t think so at the time – they could be mean!”
Ricky still walks with a limp, and has difficulty using his left arm. “My aim is to get back to 90 percent of the way I was.”
He says every day is a blessing. “You don’t know how short life is until you go through something like this.
"I get to spend time with my family, including my one-year old mokopuna. My family are incredibly supportive and my wife – she’s a strong woman. You can either sink or swim when something like this happens, and she’s a swimmer!"