Today is the day that you all can make a difference to raising awareness & funds for stroke. Read Emma’s story posted on Facebook at ‘Olive’s Tree of Hope’ or the script pasted below to find out why she’s so passionate at helping.
Baby Olive survived a stroke in 2013 only one hour after entering the world. Her dad is riding on a 11 day trip to Byron Bay to raise needed funds for the National Stroke Foundation & stroke awareness.
They only have two days of this amazing ride left, it’s not too late to donate!
Visit https://doit4stroke.everydayhero.com/au/william and make a difference!
“Michael and Thayer are in high spirits as they embark on DAY 10….2 days to go!!
Today they are riding for an amazing lady EM who is inspirational beyond words.
This is EM’s story….
Emma Gee: 34 years old
At the age of 24 years, Emma Gee was working as an Occupational Therapist (with stroke survivors in their own rehabilitation), was a long distance runner, renting with friends and loving the direction her life was heading. She had an amazing family, was one of four children (including an identical twin sister) and loving parents. She was extremely active and loved traveling. In fact, she had volunteered in Tanzania with street children and was determined to return. However, after one of her 15km runs a common knee rupture (Baker’s Cyst Rupture) was revealed and she was admitted to hospital to have it treated. Although the swelling had resided, so had Emma’s function and dumbfounded by this decline, doctors was admitted to another hospital to undergo further investigation. After five weeks, an angiogram revealed an arteriovenous malformation (AVM) in Emma’s Brainstem (a congenital deformity that comprised of a knotted group of arteries and veins). This needed to be removed or it would burst.
A few weeks later, Emma was flown to Sydney to undergo a craniotomy. Unfortunately, the AVM was quite difficult to remove and it bled into Emma’s cerebellum and she had a stroke and went into a coma.
When Emma woke in Intensive Care nine days later her world was completely different. Her world spun fast and was tilted, noise was torture and she saw two of everything with her double vision. Unable to blink, had speak, swallow or move – trapped. She was tube fed, catheterized, and spent weeks there with her family at her bedside. Although terrified, deep down she knew the importance of one day unleashing her feelings to help others in their own difficulties. She eventually was flown to Melbourne where she underwent months of rehabilitation, relearning to do everything again.
This sudden and rude transformation from therapist to patient understandably took a huge toll on Emma’s confidence. She no longer had the same identity; all that she was once good at had vanished. But she was determined to find meaning in her life again. Although she had improved over this time, she still was walking (slowly) on a walking frame, her nerve pain and warped sensation was unbearable and still had immense difficulty swallowing and communicating. After renting previously with friends, she returned back to her parents’ house, to be cared for while she continued her new daily outpatient therapy regime – trying desperately to ‘fix’ her disabled body.
Keen to return to some ‘normality’ after months of trying to return to the ‘old Em’, Emma eventually moved out and bought her own unit. With her amazing support network by her side she continued her therapy but decided to attempt to integrate it into her life. She returned to part-time work at the National Stroke Foundation and commenced her own Inspirational Speaking business – attempting to relay her newfound insight as a therapist & patient, to others. It also was a means of improving her speech and endurance. Overtime, trying to juggle more travel with her own business and sustain her emotional and physical rehabilitation proved very hard. She decided to resign from NSF to focus on her own business and finish writing her book. Balancing her rehabilitation whilst simultaneously trying to keep up with her family & friends and challenge herself is a constant challenge. She loves spending her energy on meaningful work. She spends a lot of time with her family (including seven nieces and nephews) and has an amazing support network that enables her to be the best she can be.
Today, Emma’s now running her Inspirational Speaking business full-time, focusing largely on resilience and patient-focused care, is about to publish her first book and spends a large portion of her time doing voluntary work. She manages her chronic nerve pain with her newfound passion for yoga and swimming. It is also a great means of improving her mindset and sustaining her motivation. Although, in the last nine years Emma has experienced a very grueling and challenging path, she is very content with where she is. Although still battling ongoing balance, visual and mobility activities, It’s the unwavering support that has been a constant comfort to her and although she is aware that life with a chronic condition is tough, hopes to draw on her own journey to benefit others. She believes, “that it’s not what happens to you that matters, it’s how you choose to deal with it!”