Young Stroke and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders

Charlotte’s story

Charlotte Porter is a proud Wiradjuri woman and member of the Lived Experience Working Group. She is a mother of four and was working a double shift on the day of her stroke in 2018. Charlotte had a pounding headache, extreme fatigue and then noticed that her arm felt heavy and she could not lift it. She went to her local health clinic who called for an ambulance immediately.

After the 23 hour wait, it was good treatment. I had doctors tend to my current situation, which was pretty good because I didn’t want to leave hospital knowing that I live in a rural area. I have no doctor here.

Charlotte, Young Stroke Survivor

Charlotte was also recently interviewed on JOY 94.9 FM radio. Listen to Charlotte share her story as a young stroke survivor living in rural Australia.

Some of the topics discussed will get you thinking about your own experiences. If you feel any distress, talk with someone you trust—perhaps a family member, friend, or your doctor. If you need support, information or advice StrokeLine’s health professionals are available 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, AEST. Call StrokeLine on 1800 787 653 or email strokeline@strokefoundation.org.au. Lifeline is available 24 hours a day on 13 11 44.

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Video transcript

Charlotte: Stroke isn’t really talked about in my community. I think I was around 30 when I had my first stroke and I worked three days prior, before I even realized that I had a stroke.

When the stroke occurred, I didn’t know that it was a stroke. And I waited about 23 hours before I can receive treatment. After the 23 hour wait, we were transferred to a ward. It was quite frustrating and very tiring for our family. I’ve got four kids. So having them at the hospital with my husband and myself was very, very frustrating. After the 23 hour wait, it was good treatment. I had doctors tend to my current situation, which was pretty good because I didn’t want to leave hospital knowing that I live in a rural area. I have no doctor here.

I feel that there needs to be better awareness in rural communities and quicker access would be amazing. I had to make a lot of modifications to my house. We put in a lot of hand rails, toilet rails, rails to where I sat. It was quite hard because I was put on bed rest for 20 weeks. I still had no movement or anything in the left side of my body. So my husband had to take about 15 weeks off work. It was quite hard for my husband to see me in that state, but with constant therapy and constant support from my family, it was a little bit easier.

Before the stroke, I loved to go to the gym. It was like my de-stressor. Yeah, physically it stopped me from doing daily things that could be from washing up to picking up toys off the floor or going to the shop on my own. Sometimes I have to have that extra support to carry things. My arms still quite gets quite sore. I think there definitely needs to be more awareness in this community because this community is majority made up of Aboriginal peoples. And it’s quite hard when you don’t know what the symptoms are. And I think if it’s talked about more often, I think it would be a better outcome for more Aboriginal people.