My name is Angela Thomas, I used to be the Treasurer of the Australian Aphasia Association.

My stroke:
I had a stroke in May 2000, I was 32 years old. Being a non smoker, non drinker, having normal blood pressure and not being overweight I was not considered at risk of having a stroke.

Before my stroke, I was a stay at home mum looking after my 2 children – Michael who was 4 years old and Stephanie who was 2 years old.

On the morning of my stroke my sister tried to wake me after letting me sleep in. I was awake, but my responses were incoherent. The right side of my body was limp and I had no control of my speech. I thought I was speaking and answering but my sister says my mouth was moving but nothing was coming out. Together, my brother who lived close
by, and my sister rang the ambulance. After tests at the hospital, I was diagnosed as having suffered a severe stroke.

I spent a week in hospital where I was taught to swallow. I had initial rehab as well and I was then transferred to another hospital. I managed well at walking but my arm was not responding to treatment. Learning to talk again was frustrating and sometimes very funny.

Life after stroke:
My life has changedconsiderably. For the first year I thought everything would change back to normal. I believed that movement of my arm, leg and my speech would be better and I could get on with my life as usual. Unfortunately it didn’t. Things did improve but they never came back to“normal”. I had many things to conquer.

First there was my marriage break up and obtaining my children for as much time as was possible. I now share them half time with my ex-husband. Secondly I looked for a house to buy so my children would feel safe and happy. I wanted to keep their lives as normal as possible. So far, so good! Thanks to my super. Thanks also to my Mum and Dad who encouraged me and kept me focused on the most important things – myself and my children.

After attending speech therapy, I was approached to see if I was interested in becoming the Treasurer of the Australian Aphasia Association. I was rapt, but nervous, as I had never been a Treasurer before and I was worried about my disabilities from my stroke. Anyway, it has been great. I enjoy the friendships, responsibilities and especially like the conferences. I have now been to Melbourne and Newcastle and it was absolutely fabulous. At one conference I met the patron of AAA, Dr Christopher Green. As an avid reader of his books on raising children, I was fascinated to hear his stories and could relate to them. To see his improvement after his stroke was an inspiration to me.

Last year both of my children were in school full time. I was reading a school newsletter and saw an advertisement for someone to help the children cross the road safely. I thought I could do that and so I spoke to my parents, sisters and friends (for a bit of confidence and support). I went and got the application forms, filled them out, attended an interview and then got the good news. The job was mine!

I was particularly nervous but it was exciting. I am now not just a“lollipop lady”, I am the “School Traffic Supervisor”. Spending time at school with my children, meeting new children and parents, receiving
Christmas gifts of appreciation for a job well done and getting paid for it – what more could I ask for?

So who knows? What will my next adventure be?

I can’t wait to find out!