Rebecca Maitland doesn’t just live with the effects of stroke each day, she’s also been left with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
In 2016 the former paramedic was packing her bags for the trip of a lifetime to Europe when she experienced a stroke.
Her beloved dog Nala licked her face until she regained consciousness. Paralysed, she activated Siri on her iPhone and called 000.
“My technology and my dog literally saved my life. At first my family were told to say goodbye. It took weeks of recovery at the Monash Hospital Stroke Unit before there was hope for more than just my survival,” Rebecca said.
To mark PTSD Awareness Day on June 27, Rebecca’s shining a light on the lesser-known outcomes of stroke.
“Because my phone saved my life I have quite an attachment to it, I get a lot of anxiety when my battery starts to go flat,” she said.
“I also feel quite out of my comfort zone when I’m away from home and too far from help if anything were to happen.
“Every time I get a headache or any sort of neurological symptom, I freak out thinking it’s happening again.”
Stroke Foundation research found one in three people experience depression at some point during the five years after stroke.
Now 34 and having re-trained as a phlebotomist, Rebecca uses a variety of tools to overcome her anxiety.
“I like to do things that distract me and keep me occupied, I’ll get out of the house and treat myself to a coffee, have a cup of tea with my neighbour or even play games on my phone,” Rebecca said.
Stroke Foundation Chief Executive Officer Sharon McGowan commended Nala’s life-saving actions.
“It’s wonderful to see the beautiful connection Nala and Bec have which was not only crucial during Rebecca’s stroke, but also in her ongoing recovery,” Ms McGowan said.
“We know no two stroke journeys are the same, but it’s important for survivors to know we’re here to help every step of the way. Stroke Foundation has a range of support services for survivors, families and carers which includes our confidential support service, StrokeLine.”
The free and confidential service is staffed by allied health professionals who provide information, advice, support and referrals. Find out more.