Tarneit’s Dom and Jess D’Lima are proof it is possible to emerge stronger from adversity.
Four years ago, when Mr D’Lima was aged 30, he suffered two seizures and collapsed at Flinders Street station.
Doctors at the Royal Melbourne Hospital diagnosed Mr D’Lima with a blood clot in his brain and a compression fracture in his spine, caused by the seizures.
A few days later, his brain started to swell, requiring a six-hour surgery in which a piece of his skull was removed to relieve pressure.
Mr D’Lima said he suffered from a type of stroke that has a high fatality rate, but those who survive it have a good chance of recovering a good quality of life.
He underwent extensive rehabilitation, re-learning everything from how to sign his name to using a mobile phone.
“The day he took his first step was amazing – the smile on his face was bigger than on our wedding day,” Mrs D’Lima said.
As her husband recovered, Mrs D’Lima started a blog chronicling her family’s experiences to raise awareness that young people can suffer from strokes. She also became an advocate for the Stroke Foundation.
The pair faced another challenge when Mr D’Lima was diagnosed with epilepsy that caused painful seizures that could last minutes at a time.
It took two years for doctors to fine-tune medication to control the seizures. One medication they tried caused Mr D’Lima to put on 20 kilograms. He also lost his driver’s licence because of epilepsy and developed “major depression”.
Mrs D’Lima said that she developed Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from constantly worrying that everyone around her was having a stroke, such as the couple’s daughter, Emily, and the students at the school she worked for.
But there was a light on the horizon when Mrs D’Lima gave birth to the couple’s second daughter, Grace.
“Once she was born and Dom held her, I could see his passion for life re-ignite,” Mrs D’Lima said. “She really was our little amazing Grace in that aspect.”
Details: strokeat30.blogspot.com. For help, call Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14.