Col Billing gives his wife Josy a hug, after she recognised the early symptoms of a stroke three weeks ago and called an ambulance which allowed essential treatment much quicker.
Col Billing gives his wife Josy a hug, after she recognised the early symptoms of a stroke three weeks ago and called an ambulance which allowed essential treatment much quicker. Adam Hourigan

Phoning 000 was first step in Col’s recovery

LIFE could be quite different now if 000 hadn't been dialled.

We were having a normal conversation when suddenly Col didn't respond. I looked at him asking "what's up?" then "what's wrong?"

There wasn't a sound coming out of Col's mouth, his stare was all glazed and the left side of his mouth had gone up - in hindsight the right side had gone down.

Within two minutes of the onset I had dialled 000. Without this phone call Col would not be as he is today.

The ambulance was super quick with two terrific ambos ready to look after Col and take him to hospital.

As soon as I hung up from the 000 call I rang our daughter Debbie who also arrived pronto. Deb drove me to the hospital and assisted in all matters.

In the Emergency Department, where Col spent about six hours, the doctors and nurses were fantastic.

After my written consent, a specific drug was pumped into Col which dispersed the blood clot on his brain.

Next was a stint in ICR where Jane and the rest of the team cared for Col. We couldn't have asked for any better care and attention.

A move down to Level 2 was a very happy day where the nursing staff took over the caring duties.

On the eighth day, and after an MRI scan, Col was discharged from hospital, leaving only with some problems with his speech.

We are so very confident that, with patience and time, our Col will be back to what he was before his stroke with a return to talking and singing normally.

The idea of this article is to emphatically emphasise how important it is to dial 000 as soon as humanly possible when you see another person acting strangely.

In our opinion it is better to call an ambulance and be wrong than take the chance with somebody's life.

If it wasn't for that original 000 phone call followed, within an imperative three hours, by the necessary drug, then this story may well have had quite a different ending to a stroke survivor

I have been asked how I knew Col was having a stroke and how I had the presence of mind to dial that special number of 000 so quickly.


I can't answer that question with certainty but I obviously knew that something was wrong with Col which meant my mind clicked into gear somehow.

Quite some time ago I requested a poster and business cards from the Stroke Foundation. I placed this on the wall above our exercise equipment.

The cards I put in our wallets. I also have a magnetic 'sheet' on Heart Attacks which is on our fridge.

Naturally enough I don't read or look at these every day but Deb came up with the fact that the advice had been firmly fixed in my mind, hence the quick response in dialling 000.

Calling a close family member, or friend, is also imperative, especially as support is most definitely needed.

Having Deb there alongside me was fantastic.

Not only did she drive me around on that first day but she offered help in many ways, including by using her knowledge as a professional carer, she sussed things out to make sure all was OK for Col.

We passed the test.

While Col was in hospital we weren't allowing any negative vibes. From the moment we saw Col in Emergency and had signed the necessary papers, Deb and I did a lot of laughing. Not just the two of us but we included Col as well even though when he laughed there was no sound coming out of his mouth.

I visited Col during all visiting hours and we continued laughing. Being he is a jovial kinda fella he laughed a lot at himself because, as he started to get his voice back, he knew he was talking gibberish. We still laugh when he can't spit out those words that are stuck in the loop in his brain although, thankfully, they are getting less each day.

To help keep things as normal as one possibly could I took my dinner into the hospital so we could have our meal together, just like we do at home, which we also have at lunch times.

After 24 hours Col was moved out of the actual ICU and put in a ward. I bought him a sketch pad, notebook, pencils, etc., so he could get his brain ticking over again. Each afternoon I could see the difference to his ability even from before lunch. I also put his own music tracks on to an MP3 player to give him encouragement.

Our nearly three-year-old great grand-daughter visited him at one time.

She sat on the chair lifting herself up by pressing her little arms on the arms of the chair. Another laugh because Col did the same thing…… lifted his whole body up and held it there.

Now he is home he goes into our Therapeutic Blanket twice a day and I continue to ask him questions.

We created some homework for him to assist in his reading, writing and transfer of words from his brain to his mouth.

For all those visitors and others who sent emails, rang, sent text messages and cards to both Col and I…… a big big thank you. It all certainly helped to ease the pain. Your positive attitudes will have made a world of difference to Col's recovery.

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