It is vital that stroke survivors and their families know what is available to them in terms of best resources, information and support. Helen Povey, a stroke survivor and consumer advocate from WA, has made this imperative her work and personal mission.
Helen holds various positions in the field of stroke and neurosciences and is a committed voice of stroke support and awareness change. She is currently working on a consumer guide, “All About Stroke” that will provide a resource to stroke survivors and their families.
In November 2003 Helen had a cerebral aneurysm and was given only a 20 per cent chance of surviving the surgery.
She describes herself as “nothing short of a miracle - what a rollercoaster ride to recovery lots of appointments, assessments, angiograms, two lots of brain surgery, short term memory loss, vertigo, tinnitus, peripheral vision loss, couldn’t drive, couldn’t work, couldn’t stay focused on a task, depression, anxiety, low self esteem, gratitude, guilt, fear, more fear, peace, anger, frustration, lifestyle changes …”
Helen, who has a masters in human resource management, says she found it a challenge to reestablish herself in the workplace after her stroke.
“I was my biggest critic constantly questioning my every move. Did I say that right? Do they think I’m stupid? Why can’t I remember what I’m saying? The work gap got wider my self esteem got lower.”
In a need to reinvent herself “and find a place in this world where I belonged after my stroke, that was meaningful and gave me a purpose” she has taken up roles as a consumer representative, consumer colleague and “like-minded friend - an expert by experience like you”.
“I now use my lived experience combined with my education and life experience to enrich the lives of others in the stroke community.”
Helen is starting a new consulting service for stroke survivors. Among the topics she will cover are “reinventing yourself”; the importance of social support and community care after hospital.
“I want to show people how to use their good - or bad – stroke experience to improve services and help everyone find their call to action.
“Everyone has one.”