Paul Fink is lucky to be alive. His family was nearly torn apart when - aged just 34, he suffered a massive stroke.
A marathon runner, health conscious, and super fit man, Paul showed none of the warning signs of someone likely to suffer a traumatic brain injury. But with a new dream job working at AFL house, a new baby boy and a brand new house, everything came crumbling down.
Paul had a left fronto-temporo-parietal brain haemorrhage resulting from an aneurysm bursting due to an undetected, congenital Arterio-Venous-Malformation (AVM) of the vessels in his brain.
He was in a coma for two weeks, endured four brain surgeries and his family were told numerous times that the outcome was extremely poor. However, against all odds he managed to wake up from his coma, only to find that the fight had just begun.
Due to the massive haemorrhage that occurred to the left side of his brain, Paul had to combat severe aphasia (speech and word recognition problems) and paralysis to his right (dominant) side. He stayed in hospital for six months, and spent a further 10 months attending full time outpatient rehabilitation. He worked hard to be independent and re-learn things that his brain was unable to do - including how to walk, talk, read, write, bathe, swim, drive, in addition to combating symptoms of anxiousness, epilepsy, vision issues and fatigue.
Five years on and Paul is making the most of his new lease on life. He started a blog for other stroke survivors, he had a second child, he climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge, is volunteering at the Stroke Foundation and learning to run. Paul considers this his stroke of luck. A second chance to make a difference. He is now committed to sharing his story, inspiring others while raising awareness of strokes particularly in younger people.
Paul’s tale is one of resilience, gratitude, positivity, beating the odds and finding the silver lining when life deals you what seems to be an unwinnable hand.
Paul was an IT Project Manager by trade. He is 39 years old and lives in Melbourne with his wife and two young sons.