Tania Lewis is an Awabakal woman with a disability who is wheelchair bound. She is married to a loving hubby of 28yrs, Leonard, a proud Wiradjuri man. Together they have a beautiful 19yr old daughter called Faith and a little dog called Moo.
Tania’s passion passion is helping our Mob with a disability get the best they can outta their own life, from helping them with the NDIS or their health issues or yarning circles at our local Art Gallery.
Hey all you mob out there, have a look here because I’m sharing my life changing journey that started several years back.
My name is Tania and I’m a proud Awabakal woman who has a deadly hubby of 29yrs and a beautiful 19yr old daughter, both of whom are my world.
Len and Tania’s wedding day
In 2011, when I was 40, I went to hospital for back pain and had to stay overnight. During my sleep I suffered a devastating stroke, which left me completely unable to see, move or speak.
When I woke I was so scared! I couldn’t work out what was going on? I could hear people talking about me, and machines beeping, but I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me or what was happening to me?
It was kinda like being caught in a dream, until my hubby was finally let in to see me, after what seemed to be an eternity.
He was just as scared and confused not knowing how to help or what to do. My hubby was the first person to notice that I was still with it though! By asking me to blink once for NO and twice for YES, the very first question was “Can you hear me?” and I responded with two blinks.
Tania and Len with Faith, aged 2
I cried and he cried and he held me crying, then he told the nurse that I understood him and could respond by blinking. They didn’t believe him at first, but they eventually asked me questions, and I responded to them all.
Then the doctor told us what had happened to me. He told us that I had suffered a devastating stroke, and they weren’t sure how it would leave me.
My vision returned about 3 days after the stroke. I was being fed through my nose with a tube as I had no swallow. It took me about 3 weeks just to be able to move my left thumb. My hubby would hold my hand with a phone in it and after some time I was able to push down on the phone, spelling “I love you”.
From then on the phone became my voice to talk to everyone, all I can say is thank god for technology, because it made my life a little bit easier when things were tough.
I started to regain more and more use of my left arm then, around two months after my stroke, that’s when I was first able to pick up and grasp the mobile phone by myself without relying on others to help me. If I could scream or jump for joy I would have for sure, but I settled with tears of happiness.
Ok, so by now it had taken about 4 months for my swallow to finally return, and I remember I would sit with my fingers pressed against my throat just willing it to move, the day my swallow returned I couldn’t believe it, so I got my hubby to tell the nurse that I needed my speech therapist and when she felt my swallow she started crying and yelling out to the nurses, cheering me on!!
Tania, aged 9
As my swallow improved I got more anxious, I spent ages trying to speak and say any words, the words eventually started to flow but they would come out sounding different than the words I was trying to say. Some wouldn’t sound right but I kept at it, working on my words.
My first whole word was “Faith”, my daughter’s name. I kept trying so hard to say it and then it just happened, then I said it again and again just to get it sounding right. My family came to see me and I grabbed my little girl’s hand and said “Faith”. We all cried tears of happiness, they were both shocked and overjoyed with emotions and we spent the rest of the day trying to say words. My speech eventually returned, although even today at times words still avoid me, I know what I want, but say it wrong or the wrong word comes out. I tend to swear a lot now since the stroke and always warn people around me that I swear, but 99% of people understand.
In total, I spent five months in hospital following my stroke and was then moved to rehab for Physiotherapy. Whilst in rehab I had several seizures and the doctor decided that I was unsuitable for therapy due to the seizures, so I was discharged and sent home.
When I came home in 2011 we couldn’t get any nursing help for my hubby to care for me because I was too young, so my hubby’s mum would try to take shifts caring for me on and off to help.
Being home again was indescribable after beating the odds and fearing the worst, just having my beautiful family around me again was the reason I fought so hard every day to get better and stronger and keep hitting my goals.
I was still having a few seizures at home and my hubby wouldn’t sleep, he would watch me while I slept, looking, to make sure I was okay.
Then one day there I heard a huge thud, and I yelled out to my hubby but he didn’t answer. So I kept yelling and he eventually answered telling me he had collapsed on the floor. We went straight to our doctor to see if my hubby was okay and our doctor said he was exhausted, so we asked if there was something that could help us out at home, like nurses or something?
The doctor said there was nothing to help us, and then he told my hubby that he needed to take me to hospital and tell them that he couldn’t care for me anymore because I was too high care. We talked about it together and decided that my hubby couldn’t care for us both, and that someone had to raise our daughter, so he packed my stuff up and took me to the hospital. He told them what our doctor said to tell them and gave them a letter from the doc.
He then kissed me and walked out, tears rolling down both our faces, crying and leaving me there.