Taking the plunge! Back to school and learning new strokes.

 

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No matter how old I get, I still get anxious when it comes to classrooms. From pre-school to college, it never sits well; I would prefer to do anything else but paperwork!! Always been the same!!!

Tomorrow is my second semester at college. It was meant to be just 6 months, but I was struggling with the whole speed of things.

Focusing for 6 hours in class then homework n assignments, plus the odd presentation on body parts – I couldn’t keep up! I felt stupid!!! But I have to remember nobody else has been through what I have and come back from a coma, so I might be going back with new people. But I’m still trying to give it a crack.

After working at Aegis Retirement Home I’ve learned that an Occupational Therapy Assistant may not quite be the path for me, so I’m gonna try Disability next and gain volunteer experience there!

Either way, I need my Certificate 3 to move forward, and I must complete this bloody course!!!

God willing (& Pete willing) I WILL!

 

Signing off at Goodlife Kingsway Gym. Thanks Buddies! You’re the best!!

Pete & staff at Goodlife gym

I hate to be a big girl about this!!! But this week I left Goodlife Kingsway Gym!!…..”My  church !!…..my salvation!! “…..my way out from this locked-in war!!”

I don’t wanna disrespect the church by saying that, but it was. I prayed more in there than anywhere and held back a lot of tears through my fight with my limbs and my divorce – not to mention poverty!!! That’s always fun of course!

Over the last 4.5 years I put a shit load of hours into that place, I tell ya – pain, sweat n tears, with bucket loads of focus.  Two years of pool till I could get upstairs to the gym. Even then it was the cross trainer for 6 months…. I used to look at everyone on all these machines n dream of using ‘em someday, And I did!!! All except the big bloke corner!!!

4.5 years of the same staff really connected me to ‘em, for sure! They’re probably thinking, “Thank God for that – Pete’s left! Yay!!!!

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I’ve just moved house with help from my Dad and his wife Noi (thank you x). “A change is as good as a break,” they say. Well, I needed it!!!  I’ve seen every crack on the streets, and entered the gym that many time I swear the door hinges are loose!!

New area, new start, new gym. A whole fresh outlook….it’s a bit overdue I think!

I’ll miss ‘em all and, even though this half decade was hell, the people I’ve met through it are now embedded in my heart! The right staff makes a good gym and I sure had the best!!!  (in my totally unbiased opinion, of course – Hahaha!)

On my last day, I found out who donated my 10 free lessons too! Never guessed it either –  it was a guy I’d d known in the gym called Anthony Carcione (sneaky sod!!) Thank you so much mate! I didn’t know what to say!!  People in this world are amazing but you only find out who they are when you fall!!! I owe ya a big steak, buddy!

Thanks for the pain, Cheri – my personal trainer towards the end, but I’m grateful to all the staff sorry I can’t name you all; there are too many of you, but you know I will do anything for you all – Just ask me!

Privileged to know each and every one of you, truly!! So, to all at Goodlife Kingsway, Pete is signing off & signing out with a cheesecake of love coming right at ya! xxx

Pete - cake for goodlife gym

Thanks a million!

Pete

95-year olds put a spring in my step!

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Look at the picture above then read on…

Never thought I’d ever be writing this! I’ve walked 1000s of kilometres, been trampolining, had years of pool rehab,  gym, weights, blar blar,  you know how dedicated I’ve been…..

Well! After all that, who’d have thought a day at an Aged Retreat would leave me so exhausted?!!! The little old ladies had me up dancing! Today we did a quiz and I had a morning natter to a few of the residents…Funny, some of them! Hahaha (real funny!) And it’s all part of my work experience!

Yes, I really like my new volunteer job on Thursdays; It’s certainly different to my Friday sessions at the hospital.

As some of you may know, I’m going back to finish the last part of my course in July, so I wanted to gain as much experience as I could in my new chosen field as an OTA (occupational therapy assistant). Over the years I’ve come across many new conditions, such as:

Stroke and Locked-in syndrome (obviously); Guillain  Barre syndrome (where nerves are attacked by the body’s own immune defence system);
Multiple Sclerosis; Aphasia  (communication/speech problems); and Head Injury. I’ve also encountered Melanoma,
amputees, Diabetes…let’s leave it at that, ey. My point is, one thing I’d never been involved with was Dementia and I wanted to learn more about it!!

Well, I believe in fate and, while I was on my Tafe course, I met a lovely fellow Manc (Manchester) lass called Alicia Walker. We hit it off straightaway and became friends, even catching up over a juicy steak. That sealed a long-term friendship, I’ll tell ya! Nom nom nom! Just so happens she worked in care for the aged and pumped me into the pipeline at her place.

I’ve only had 2 days at this retreat but I’m under OTA’s wings and trying to get hands on and be helpful. Well, like I said, the ladies had me dancing, something I haven’t tried to do for years – and, Yes, I still suck! Haha! But I really got a lot out of it. The enjoyment the residents were having stimulated me too; it was wonderful seeing them smiling and coming to life!

I love the way OTAs can find ways to get people moving. As I’m all too aware, movement is everything when it comes to stimulating the brain and mood. OTAs also give back a sense of purpose – an aspect I’m particularly interest in and hope to put to good use in the future.

Meanwhile, I’m not sure whether this will be my direction, but I had a good few days at the care home, even improving my general knowledge during the quiz! Did you know Asia is the biggest continent!? It’s in there now – go on ask me another!!!!  Our team came second in the quiz too, with very little help from me! They were pro!!!

Altogether, a great day! I never dreamed I could get up and dance with 95-year old ladies and bring smiles to their faces….not after my story. Think they all liked me, despite my two left feet; but, hey, let’s not be doing the tango before I can two-step! It’s only been a couple of days so, “Easy Pete, easy lad! Let’s not get too excited!”

Thanks Alicia – It’s been a pleasure so far. And thanks to all the team at Aegis Aged Care Group!

You’re the best!

 

 

‘Brain drained’ but loving my course!

Those of you who are following my endless journey from the pits of hell will know I am studying at the moment (or at least trying to keep up!), training to assist professional therapists. Well that’s the plan….

Some days I wonder if I’ve taken too much on; I’m used to focusing on one thing then smashing it!! That’s just a life in the building game, I suppose, and my military start in life.

Today, I’m learning more that I ever thought I would – cultural diversity, empowerment and terminology as well as all the physical aspects including manual handling, body systems and their functions, movement and, of course, infection control!

I have great lecturers but it’s not all sinking in yet, but they tell me by the end of the course it’ll all come together. Already, a lot of it is beginning to make sense and I’m loving it, despite being ‘brain drained’.  And, being the only lad in the class I’m bound to fall behind – just can’t compete with the fairer, ey!  You know you’ll never win!!

I’ve been missing out on my rehab in the gym n pool or practicing my new pastime, playing the guitar, so that’s a bit depressing, but I just can’t do everything!!! For now, I need to concentrate on my course and I’m giving it 100%! Yesterday at 4am I worked on my assignment, had 4 hours in lessons plus 3 hours doing computer tests in the library as one test failed to register (I hardly swore at all!) Then, after college, I spent the evening doing another assignment that I’d got behind with, working until midnight with help from my good friend Sue, who’s an advocate for disability in Perth. Thank you Sue, I needed a bit of guidance!

And thanks also to Zona Rens at Curtin University who’s very kindly lent me a brain for my highly professional neurology talk. Hahaha! God, I hate talking unless I’m relaxed; breath support still affects me when I get nervous – even talking about nerves makes me nervous!!

Anyway, I seem to be getting there – but talk about a challenge after a stroke! Only people in my shoes would understand! Itis a new stage for me and I need to do this for my own security, I want to follow a career I know I’ll be good at.

Looking forward to placement – I think I’ll enjoy and excel in a work place. I’m not at my best in a classroom environment – never was! Juliana, one of my lecturers, has set 4 of us up to do a mini class presentation on the nervous system – the brain being the obvious place to start. I get to learn n talk about the pons, the magic control box to your body where I was so badly affected and which left me in a vegetative state. How mad is that!!! Talking to a class about it after being locked in!!!!

Life’s just unbelievable! I never dreamed I would be doing this!! Really, I’m so glad I never looked back – Positivity sure can change your life!! I cry now n then with disbelief and am just so grateful for my third chance in life. Like a cat, I’ve another 6 chances to go…….I hope!!

Thanks to my lecturers:
Andrew
Mitch
Juliana
Jenny
Ron

Pass or fail I’m a  proud man!!

This is where I’m studying: Central Tafe Mt. Lawley Campus

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Thanks Richard Fidler and ABC Radio! Helping the injured to help themselves

To ” D” man – Richard Fidler!!!

Pete & Richard Fiddler ABC Radio

…and all at ABC, thanks for bringing my story to your listeners out there. I hope my experience with locked-in stroke will make people fight. There can be a lot of gains with a drive to get well – and the determination to never give in.

I would like to change the world and its view on the way we think about stroke. I fully believe that we should be given the right to fix our injuries with a specialised gym. Regular people have a gym in every town but, I ask you, what is there for the millions of people recovering from injury? Physio that not everyone can afford.

A place to train would be great with equipment that’s specifically designed for rehab, such as pulley systems – lightweight machines with counter weights. We deserve the right to fix ourselves.  I had to take chances by trying to walk to my gym; I fell badly a few times and had to climb up a lamppost to get back on my feet! But I’ve proved that some people are able to fight back and in 6 months’ time I’ll be a trained assistant therapist who can pay 30 years of tax. Had I not got myself rehabilitated, it would be 30 years of benefits!!

I just feel there’s a very important area here which we’re overlooking. A massive percentage of people want the opportunity to get their lives back – and get back to work. After graduating from Out-patients we may need up to a lifetime of recovery….hopefully someone shares my passion to give the human race a fighting chance!

‘Cos a lot want to fight back!

Thanks Richard for helping to get the message out there!

Thanks ABC

You can listen to my interview with Richard here:

http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2016/02/17/4407913.htm

 

National Stroke Foundation Award – Improving Life After Stroke

Side by side with Alisha, who helped raise me to my feet!

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Today was an unbelievably proud day indeed! I hate showing off but if you have been following me you know me pretty well by now….I ain’t like that!

I think of others who are still fighting and know exactly what they’re thinking: “Will I ever get there?” “I can’t see any change.” “I just want my life back!”  You know I know how it feels; that’s why I wanted to share this with you.

Do you remember Alisha Anderson, my physio from Fiona Stanley Hospital? Well!! Get this!!!!

As you know I was just a paralysed dead-weight when I was first wheeled into her gym. Well yesterday I was standing side by side with the great Alisha – BOTH OF US!!!! – collecting an award together from the Stroke Foundation (WA) as a “Improving Life After Stroke” finalist!!

To you guys it’s just a story, but to me it was a realisation of just how far I’d come. Just unbelievable!!! I just had to get a picture, and I got a real corker!! (See above) Just goes to show you can keep knocking down the rule books, ey!

It’s funny really – the rehab started with Alisha and my journey has kind of ended with Alisha.

Again I didn’t expect that!!! Expect the unexpected when you give it all you got and never ever give in!!!

Thanks to the National Stroke Foundation (WA) for the finalists award – You guys are awesome!!!

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Just want to say a big ‘Thanks’ to everyone who has been following and supporting me since I first began this blog. I’m planning to take a break from blogging for a while as I’ll be busy with my health care assistant course and generally getting on with life! Feel free to email me with any comments or concerns and I’ll do my best to reply. In the meantime, you can check out my story on my latest video!

https://petercoghlan.com/petes-video-page/

Goal-setting is another way of saying, “Do it! Keep trying until you can!

 Pete
I’m running around today – getting references, copying my passport/driver’s licence, updating my CV…. I gotta be ready. My health assistant course must be applied for by December 2nd – Next week!!! So glad David my speechy pulled this course out of the links from Stroke Foundation. I’m also grateful to Zona Rens, lecturer in Health Sciences at Curtin University, who has been an amazing mentor to me.  It just feels so right, like it’s  tailor-made for me after everything I’ve experienced. I now have a passion deeply implanted in my soul, to free others and help their recoveries.
It may take some years to get in to my final area that’s best suited but it’s the first solid direction I’ve had and I’m soooo excited!!! Big time!!! I don’t value money so much after my life; being happy in my soul, a car that starts and a wage I can live on – that’s everything. Well, apart from a healthy lifestyle, of course. I guess my journey is almost complete. I may blog on finishing my course or something, but I’m gonna be very, very busy using the grey matter this next year… So I will leave some final words to anyone who has followed my story:
If you feel you can’t do it, or if you BELIEVE you have no hope, or find yourself alone, don’t give up. With determination, a strong will, discipline and obsession, your life can improve. Every stroke is different and I’m sorry if you can’t achieve all you may wish for , but after my stroke, I found that when I tried and tried and still try, it has and continues to improve.
A lot of people stop trying after years – but you don’t stop growing at 2 years of age. That’s my point: Try, try, try for years upon years – Challenge yourself, push yourself as much as you can, regularly! They’re right about goal-setting – that just another way of saying “Do it!! Keep doing it till ya CAN! Good luck out there! Be strong, eat well, and work your ass off!”
I am Peter Coghlan, signing off. Thanks for following!