Feb 29th, a leap year day, and I was booked on a helicopter ride from the beautiful seaside village Leigh one hour north of Auckland. Leigh has been our holiday home for a long time and this year we had decided to move here permanently.
Although we had been coming to the area for over 40 years there was one thing I had never done and that was to take a helicopter flight over the beautiful coastal area of Leigh Harbour and the bay of Big Omaha.
It was 3:25pm in the afternoon, school was just coming out and from my vantage point I could see the children and teachers gather excitedly around the school playing field where the helicopter was about to land.
Through the window of the vehicle I watched the helicopter land and the pilot jump out to open up the helicopter for its passenger – me, a flight for the bucket list.
The rotors slowed and the whirlwind of leaves and grasses dropped away I could now make out the livery of the helicopter clearly, it was red – Westpac red – as were the uniforms of the pilot and his companion. This jolted me out of my daydream, this was no scenic flight, this was a medical rescue flight – and I was the patient.
Only a short time before I was at home, and had farewelled my wife and mother in law as they headed off to Auckland to buy things for the downstairs apartment we were renovating as part of our move.
My job was to ring the power company and have the power put on, the call went smoothly at first but then as sometimes happens with mobile phones, the signal seemed to drop and I missed a few words. I asked the operator to repeat, she did but then I missed a few words again, I made a joke about the mobile coverage and asked to repeat again, but something else was wrong. I noticed my hand holding the phone had dropped away from my ear – strange – I transferred the phone to my left ear and the signal was fine. I continued the call finalising the details, but something was very odd.
On completing the call I inspected my right hand everything seemed to be ok, I could move it but it felt a bit weak. I checked my right leg and that seemed a bit weird, a bit numb, something was not right… Maybe I was having a stroke.
There was no pain; I called my wife who said she would return but I must call 111 immediately.
I felt stupid because my symptoms were minor, our little village has a volunteer fire brigade and I knew they would be called out as first responders.
With symptoms of feeling a little odd and minor weakness in my arm and leg was I over reacting?
I called 111 and got through to ambulance services immediately, the operator took my call as a possible stroke seriously and very carefully got my details and my address. She was calm and reassuring.
I hung up and seconds later the alarm siren that alerts the volunteers rang through the town. I go to stand-up to get some clothes and my unsteadiness makes me realise this is not a false alarm something is definitely wrong.
It is only minutes later the fire brigade arrive, as does my nephew alerted by a call from my wife.
My symptoms are getting worse, I am struggling to talk and my whole right side is closing down, the firemen know exactly what to do and confirm that the ambulance is some 10 minutes away.
The next 20 minutes is a blur as the ambulance arrives and the fire and ambulance team confer, gather details of my symptoms and get me down the stairs of our two storey house.
They are constantly reassuring me and say, with my symptoms, they are calling in the rescue helicopter to get me to the stroke unit at Northshore hospital asap… Every minute counts.
Hence my flight of a lifetime, not quite the way I had planned it, I was under no illusions, my right side was now completely immobile, I was helpless and my speech was slurred. It was going to be a long slog back to health. The paramedics carry me to the helicopter, my brain is shutting down, it could be a while before I return
Jumping ahead 3 days it is the morning of Thursday the 3rd of March, much has happened.
I am back in Leigh, at the same school playing field, I turn and hug my wife, tears of happiness well up and then I turn and jump into the air with joy – all symptoms of my stroke are gone.
This is a true story written about one of my friend’s very real recent experience with having a stroke. He was extremely lucky that things moved so quickly for him and that he got to hospital in time to have the relatively new treatment – a procedure that only 6 % of stroke victims in NZ get to receive
It is called TPA and is used in strokes caused by a clot in the brain. It is fast acting and has the potential to completely reverse the symptoms of a severe stroke; it is a stroke reversal and a completely breakthrough procedure.
But there is a catch… It only works if the brain cells have not died. My friend was lucky, the result was instantaneous and miraculous and within seconds he could move his right arm and leg, the muscles of his face began to work again and his speech cleared.
Not everyone is this lucky and with only 6% of people getting access to this amazing medicine, the reality is that it could happen to anyone at any time and have a very different result.
There is a perception that this kind of thing only happens to people when they are older in life – that is a misconception as I have a client who had a severe stroke when he was in his thirties. Completely unexpected and out of the blue, as in the example above. He was lucky in that he made a complete recovery – but was off work for some months.
Fortunately he had comprehensive insurance that kicked in immediately and he was able to continue paying his mortgage and other day to day living expenses. Without insurance he would have been in a very dark place financially as he could not work.
So my question to you is, do you know if your insurance would work for you if you were to make a claim? When was your insurance cover last reviewed? Insurance products and people’s circumstances change often so it is vital to have your insurances reviewed regularly. Most people I speak with cannot remember the last time they spoke with an adviser.
If you are unsure about if you have the right cover, cover that will work at time of claim, then give me a call and we can set a time to catch up and have a chat. I can help you to have certainty around your cover and the knowledge that if something does go wrong, it will not mean financial disaster. Give me a call today and let’s meet up soon.
021 634 451