Saran: Justin Williams. I'd love to hear your story, please.

Justin W: I had to get up really early to do radio, and when I came off the radio, I just had to go to bed and I had a really bad headache and it's not normal for me to be really tired at that time of the morning.

But my wife's eyes - you could tell in her that something was really wrong. We went into the urgent care and I was sitting down on the bed and all of a sudden I couldn't visualise how to speak. That whole part of my brain just instantly, just disappeared.

I was having a stroke.

Once you're in that situation the system takes over and you know, you've got no control over what happens. I'm freaking out in my in my head, but I can't do anything.

Then I just remembered, like, thinking about my kids and my wife, and it just it comes all back to basics.

That night I woke up, I was a different person. I couldn't speak and I couldn't move my right arm properly.

But after a few days, my arm started working. And probably the main point for me that I learnt that I'm still me in my head.

But that was ten months ago. I'm probably about 95%.

Saran: Justin Murphy, could we perhaps get your story, please?

Justin M: I was running. I felt a severe headache come on, which is quite unusual. So I kept going, as you do, and it just got worse. And I thought this can't be right. Something's not good here. Made it home and I called out to my wife. She was in another room and she came running in.

She was a bit panicked and rang the ambulance. And I said, "No, no, it's okay. We'll just drive. I don't want to be an inconvenience."

I got up and then I just thought I was going to pass out and just sat down on the bed and just felt like crying. Something was really, really wrong.

I got to the hospital. They thought it was just migraines. I was in the waiting room for ages.

Eventually I got in there and fortunately, there was a really good doc who said, "These headaches are not right."

So they sent me for some scans and then they found a subarachnoid haemorrhage, so bleeding on the back of your brain. So I was in hospital for ten days and just home recovery.

I gradually started walking. My fitness dropped enormously. It took me about eighteen months, I think, to get back to a reasonable level of fitness. Probably for six to 12 months afterwards I was still sleeping during the day. I could get very tired just doing normal stuff.

Saran: Andrew.

Andrew: I had my stroke coming up for three and a half months ago. I played basketball that night, went to bed about midnight and then woke up at 4 o'clock in the morning. Felt really dizzy going to the toilet, made it back to bed. I felt something was wrong and then for some reason was attempting to speak out loud but couldn't find the words.

I woke my wife to let her know that something wasn't quite right and she immediately rang the health hotline as opposed to the ambulance, but hey organised an ambulance straight away.

So I never had any facial drooping or anything else like that. I had no loss of strength. I did have pins and needles in my right hand and I would always fall over. My balance was shot and my eyesight was problematic.

They then put that down to an atypical migraine and then from there on in really, that's what everyone treated it as.

Our local hospital doesn't have an MRI, so they just gave me a referral to go and get one myself and discharged me. Because I had assumed that it was a migraine, there was no real stress.

My eyesight was shocking and I had double vision and nausea and those sorts of things.

So I just lay in the dark. I was pretty much thinking I wasn't going to bother going and getting the MRI because I thought it was going to be a bit of a hassle. And then I just thought I better go and do it.

So, I'd had a stroke and the head of the stroke unit, they got me in that same day.

And that was it really with regards to care. I was discharged.

Then I progressively improved over six weeks. I had quite a lot of issues with fatigue early on, some quite intense issues, but they went away reasonably quickly.

The physical for me wasn't the biggest issue, but the mental trauma was.

For weeks afterwards I was waking up two to three times every night thinking I was having another stroke.

Saran: How have the dynamics changed with your wife and your kids?

Justin M: I think one thing that has really changed is just I don't feel invincible anymore and they don't see me as invincible. Sometimes when I'm going out for a run they're like, "Don't burst your brain again." And I think the way they treat me is like I've aged probably ten, 20 years.

And it's kind of good in a way, but also quite kind of frustrating. I don't want them to see me like that. I have tried to modify my life so that won't happen again.

And my running has been very gradual. Prior to this, I would have just gone, "Whatever, I'll go and smash out a session today and then do the same thing tomorrow."

But now I'm a lot more conservative in that way.

Justin W: So when it happened, the time at work was getting longer and longer and everything and it definitely makes me think that I've been given a second chance and I can just chill out a bit.

My wife, I feel really bad for her because she was there when it happened. She's hyper-vigilant on any signs that it's going to happen again. That's been probably the biggest goal of recovering because I wanted to be there for my kids.

Like I didn't care about my job.

Saran: It seems that you've all sort of had that reflection is that, wow, this is what's good in my life and these are the priorities. But did you seek any counselling?

Justin W: Yeah, I did. It was great. We worked together for about three months.

Saran: And so would you recommend people to get counselling?

Justin W: I think don't discount it. You know, because I was thinking I'd never use a counsellor, but it was really nice just to talk to a man that didn't know me or my family or anything like that.

And I can just go through my problems with him. And it really helped me.

Andrew: I used the stroke hotline twice and that probably was not counselling, but was in place of that immediate need that I had. And I felt that was actually a real benefit to me.

I'm a research scientist by training, and I felt this process, irrespective of who you are they almost exclude you from the process. They don't necessarily explain it all to you, and they treat you like an object. And for me, it doesn't scare me to hear the information that they've got to tell me.

And that for me would have been much more therapeutic than all the counselling sessions that could have been offer.

Saran: And Justin Murphy, have you spoken with counsellors?

Justin M: No, I haven't. But, you know, I think in hindsight it'd probably be a good idea. I think I felt the most comforted in hospital. You're in a room of four people. They've all got similar issues and you're kind of talking about how the heck did this happen, you know, and you're bouncing all these things off each other.

I think also it'd be helpful for our partners. It probably was harder for my wife than for me. It was my wife that had to firstly go through it all with all our extended family and then ring all my mates. And she was devastated and in tears through every conversation.

And I felt dreadful for her. So I think certainly in terms of counselling would be good to kind of extend that.

Saran: What advice would you give to someone else?

Andrew: You need to trust the people that are looking after you, but don't just follow their advice blindly. If you don't feel happy and comfortable with where you are, you need to take that next step.

Justin M: The advice I'd give is just listen to your body. I think my body was just giving me some signs, maybe slow down. I think if you can get on to something a lot earlier, if you have any doubts. It can be the difference between life and death.

This doesn't just happen to people with a family history or people that are extremely stressed. So just be mindful.

Saran: Justin Williams.

Justin W: I had a really bad thing happen to my brain, but it opened my eyes up to how amazing the brain is. I would never have had that experience if I hadn't had a stroke. You know, I wouldn't recommend it for anyone, but it definitely changed me, and I think it's changed me for the better.

I'm closer with my family, and I'm more easygoing, I'm not as stressed. But you learn how your you react to these challenges in life.

And I'm proud of myself that I have managed to get this far. In a nutshell, cliche, but, you know, life is a gift and you've just got to make the most of it.

And although it was a traumatic experience for me and my family, it was an interesting, maybe a good experience.

Saran: It's one of those lifelong journeys that I think we're going to keep on learning, really, isn't it?