Walking into the home of a man cut down in his prime by a stroke, it’s hard to know what to expect.
Tauranga resident Colin Weston was a fit and active 53-year-old. He didn’t drink and wasn’t a smoker. On a holiday with his wife and two sons in Queenstown, he was hurtling down a mountain bike track with his son Andy when he suffered a massive stroke.
That was two-and-a-half years ago and the result has been huge both emotionally and financially. Given that, what you don’t expect is the laughter and positivity which fills the Weston home.
“That was my life then, this is it now,” smiles Colin. “Two different lives and I’m making the most of mine. I’m still Colin Weston warts and all.”
Initially the former HR advisor couldn’t move, feel, sense, taste or smell on the right side of his body. For the first two months he communicated solely by ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and spent three months in rehabilitation at Kenepuru Hospital, before returning to the family’s Wellington home.
With Colin unable to work, his wife Fiona gave up her veterinary career to care for him and their son Andy postponed his university degree to get a job and help out financially.
The Westons subsequently moved to Tauranga and have nothing but praise for Tauranga Hospital’s Speech Language Therapy Department.
Colin is ahead of his predicted recovery path and loving life. The mountain bike may have gone but it’s been replaced by a recumbent trike.
“Love it, love it,” beams Colin. “You can go really fast,” he says with a look which suggests his former love of speed is being channelled elsewhere.
The couple has started a public speaking club, the Gavel Club, to help stroke sufferers regain their speaking confidence.
A talented musician Colin is relearning to play the piano and to write left-handed. He is also writing a book about his stroke experience in order to help others. This inspirational man’s outlook is simple.
“If I can do it, you can do it.”
For more information on Speech and Language Therapy Awareness visit www.speechtherapy.org.nz
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