It was a nightmare … but help was at hand

Taking the Big Lap is a dream that comes true for thousands of Australians every year.

But, for the unlucky few, things don’t always go as planned. Denise and Brian, from the Western Australian town of Bunbury, were 22 months into a two-year trip with Denise’s sister and brother-in-law when disaster struck.

After a sightseeing trip near Lake Alexandrina in South Australia, the couple were having a cup of tea at their free camp at Narrung when Brian began slurring his words. It was 10 weeks ago now, but it’s a moment that Denise will never forget.

“His mouth had a left sided droop,” she recalls. “I immediately got him to poke out his tongue which confirmed my suspicion … it had a definite deviation to the left.” Without any prior indication that anything was wrong, Brian had suffered a stroke.

As Denise’s sister, Lauren, tried to ring emergency ser-vices the phone coverage kept dropping out but, when she did get through, the response was impressive. The nearest town was 30 minutes away, but an ambulance and helicopter arrived on the scene promptly.

“The paramedics were deciding whether to transport Brian to the nearby town of Meningie or air transport him to Adelaide,” said Denise. “Thankfully they decided the latter as Brian suffered another stroke whilst in hospital.”

As the doctors dealt with the aftermath of Brian’s strokes which were caused by a blocked carotid artery, Denise had plenty to cope with.

During Brian’s four-week stay in Flinders Hospital, she stayed at a van park and will forever be thankful that her sister and brother-in-law, Pe­ter, were there to support her.

“We had to wait for authori­sation to medivac Brian to Perth,” said Denise. “Our private health fund did not cover such flights and, as we were travelling in Australia, we didn’t take out travel insurance.”

Brian was eventually able to fly west with a nurse escort, and is now in a rehabilitation hospital in Perth. He will soon be transferred to a Bunbury medical facility and will hopefully be allowed home in about a month. So, is this the end of the cou­ple’s caravanning days?

It would appear not.

“Brian is already planning a trip for next year,” says Denise. “And I believe this will happen due to his determination … even if I have to drive!”



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