Stroke victim reveals how life can change in an instant
PETER McGrath found out four years ago that the direction of a person's life can change in an instant.
The high-profile executive suffered a brain aneurysm while driving to work, then had a stroke while on the operating table.
Peter's wife Judy, who's now his carer, said he spent 27 days in intensive care at the old Gold Coast Hospital and nine months receiving rehabilitation.
"When Peter came out of his coma in 2012, he could say six words," she said.
"He's very lucky to be alive after 'dying' three times."
Life for the McGraths changed irrevocably.
They had to sell their home and move to a more manageable unit at Carrara.
When the Aphasia Social Group was set up by speech pathology students from Griffith University, they jumped at the chance to be part of it.
"Aphasia is the inability to get words out of your mouth," Judy said.
"You know them in your head but you can't say them.
"Sometimes it's the result of brain injury; mainly it's a stroke."
Peter's now 67 years old, and most of the group are over 50.
The social group provides many benefits for aphasia sufferers, their carers and families.
"It's very much an information and social thing," Judy said.
"Out of that group, a girl started up a painting group.
"If someone's having a 'down' time, we rally to bring them up so they don't feel like they're the only one who's going through that.
"Stroke survivors, they can feel really bad for a few weeks, then they're on top of the world.
"I look forward to seeing the other carers and we exchange what's happening."
Peter, a self-confessed "social person", started up a coffee morning group.
A walking group is also available, as it's important for aphasia sufferers to keep active.
Meetings of the Aphasia Social Group are held at the Southport Library, corner Lawson and Garden streets, Southport, on the third Saturday of every month from 10am to midday.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.