JOHN Norton is still feeling the effects of the stroke he suffered 15 years ago.
The 68-year-old Bendigo resident was getting ready for work when he lost control of his left side and started slurring his words.
His wife was quick off the mark and, recognising the signs of stroke, called for help.
Half an hour later Mr Norton was in the hospital’s emergency department with a pain in his head and a stroke diagnosis. He was just 52.
“I was in the acute unit for 10 days,” Mr Norton said.
“I think I was in shock.
“I wasn’t a fitness fanatic but I’d never smoked in my life, I never had blood pressure problems. It was just one of those things.”
It took Mr Norton a long time to get back on his feet – literally.
“I was in a wheelchair for a long time, but bit by bit they managed to get me back on my feet,” he said. “It’s been a very long journey.
“I didn’t understand everything would change. I still can’t use my left arm and need help doing things like tying my shoelaces.
“You lose your independence and you’re virtually forced to rebuild your life.”
Mr Norton used his own experience to help others by co-founding the Central Victorian Stroke Support Group.
“The psychological and social impacts of a stroke are just as significant as the health side of it,” he said.