Our book is loosely based on my own experience. I worked hard to be independent; I had to relearn how to walk, talk, read, write, drive and deal with anxiety, epilepsy, vision issues and fatigue.
Writing a children’s book was not only a major achievement, but very cathartic for long term Epworth patient Paul Fink.
Paul teamed up with Epworth senior speech pathologist Lauren Fletcher to write My Dad Had a Stroke.
Ten years ago, when Paul was a super fit 34-year-old marathon runner, he had a devastating stroke which severely affected his speech and language and left his right side paralysed. While Paul has made a remarkable recovery, he has ongoing issues with speech and mobility.
A long-term outpatient rehabilitation patient at Epworth Richmond, Paul has had a recent inpatient stay after surgery to improve the stability of his right ankle and help achieve his physical goals.
The last decade has seen Paul achieve a lot. Married with three children, he has dedicated his life to stroke awareness. He hosted a podcast on adversity (Stroke of Luck), and writes a blog for stroke survivors. This book, which is seeking a publisher, is his latest project.
“I decided to write the book partly because my eldest son was very young after my stroke happened and reading books with him was a huge part of my speech and language recovery,” Paul said.
“During this journey, I noticed that there is not much information about stroke out there aimed at kids and families.”
“My kids are now 10, six and two. In their eyes, dad is just normal – they didn’t know me before the stroke.”
“Our book is loosely based on my own experience. I worked hard to be independent; I had to relearn how to walk, talk, read, write, drive and deal with anxiety, epilepsy, vision issues and fatigue.”
“While it focuses on challenges associated with stroke, the message of hope, acceptance and inclusion of people with a disability is important for all children,” Paul added.
Written for primary school aged children, the rhyming story is narrated by the child. It describes the experience of their dad’s stroke, visiting him in hospital and understanding how he has changed when returning home. The child uses ‘superhero’ powers to navigate complex emotions to feel safe and build resilience.
Lauren, who has built a friendship with Paul after years of treatment, says they set out to make the book both educational and entertaining.
“Age-appropriate education materials for children whose parents have had a stroke are lacking, with only educational leaflets readily available,” Lauren said.
“With an estimated 142,000 Australians aged under 65 living with the impact of stroke, we know that includes a high number who are likely to be parents of young children, thus there is a need for a resource like this.”
Paul and Lauren hope this book can provide much needed hope for families navigating the stroke journey, and help to raise awareness of stroke, particularly in the younger population.