Tuesday, 28 May 2013

George Scola



As a slightly overweight stressed 6’2 business owner, I was not by any stretch of the imagination considered to be in ‘peak physical condition’, I was a light smoker, I was not a drinker, I did not have high cholesterol or blood pressure, but I was a passionate motorbike adventurer- doing a 400km ride almost every weekend and this was part and parcel of my busy lifestyle - the last thing I expected almost four weeks after I turned 37 on the 26th of April 2008 was to have a stroke, brought on by high affinity haemoglobin....thick blood.
Thankfully my friend realised what was happening to me. He immediately called my wife and I was taken to hospital within 45 minutes.
I knew something was wrong because of my paralysed arm and leg and loss of speech but I only fully understood the big picture a couple of days later. I was in total shock but I soon came to realise I had two choices- to give up and accept defeat or to go out there and make things happen. That’s when the biggest challenge of my life began.
With the support of a team of brilliant therapists, my family and friends I learnt how to walk and talk again. It takes determination and probably a stubborn personality - it’s all about character, the will to overcome and most importantly, remain positive through all the emotional hardships that you encounter along the road to recovery which takes years.
Having a stroke in your 30’s definitely tests your personal relationship too – there’s nowhere to learn how to deal with it so you have to make your own way forward. I don’t think people realise the strain that a stroke places on family and friends.
Having experienced the lack of support and of state funded rehab centres, I co-founded the Stroke Survivors Foundation in February 2010. The sole purpose for creating the Stroke Survivor Foundation is to assist stroke survivors, their families and their carers, survive the trauma and give them the knowledge needed to endure the incident and their recovery.
The motivation to create the Stroke Survivors Foundation (SSF) was developed from the real life experiences that Charlene Murray and I, both having had strokes in our 30’s, shared and the realisation of the support structure that we each have.
As time went on and our recovery continued, we began to comprehend the difficulty of adjusting back into society, back to what we considered a normal lifestyle by our own standards. A stroke is a silent killer, this does not mean that we just have to accept it and fight it on our own. Having survived the stroke is the easy part, recovering, adjusting and acknowledging the disability, patience for the survivor and the carers, staying motivated and staying positive….this is the difference between conquering and overcoming or taking it lying down.
The walk from Beit Bridge to Cape Point was the first project of the Stroke Survivors Foundation. The aim of doing the walk were; to raise stroke awareness, to create awareness of the foundation, to populate a database of stroke survivors as well as all medical practitioners and therapists involved with stroke, to raise funds for the foundation and to hopefully motivate fellow stroke survivors to believe that there is life after surviving a stroke!

The walk began on the 15th of August 2010 and I finished at Cape Point on the 26th of February 2011. I walked a total of 2473 km’s, at an average of between 18 – 20 km’s per day on a three day and rest on the fourth day basis. On the rest day, I would visit hospitals, clinics and fellow stroke survivors.

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