In October 2009, Maria had a life changing stroke. The beautiful, young mum had just dropped her 2 year-old at day care and taken her 1-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son to the park, when out of the blue, she collapsed.
Maria credits Justin, a fireman, who happened to be in the park, as the reason she is alive today. “I think he saved my life,” Maria said. “He did all the right things, he made sure I was safe and called an ambulance.”
Maria had suffered a severe stroke. When she woke up from a coma she couldn’t walk, talk or feed herself. Maria said the next 12 months in hospital were very hard.
“It was terrible being away from my husband, Tony, and the kids for so long. My 10-year-old, Alex, suffered the most,” Maria said. “Even though I was fit and healthy at the time, the specialists said it was a genetic malformation and that a stroke was always going to happen.”
Born in Spain, Maria grew up surrounded by family, culture and tradition. In 1992, Maria met her Australian husband, Tony, at the World Expo. In 1998 they moved to Australia to settle down and start their family.
When Tony found out about Maria’s stroke he said it was like an out of body experience.
“I was called to the hospital and asked if Maria had a health directive. The social worker told me to bring the kids in to say goodbye…” Tony said. “I was in shock and denial…”
“But here I am,” Maria jokes.
And it’s this courageous attitude, with a wonderful sense of humour, that has seen Maria pick herself up and face life with love and determination.
Almost 10 years on, Maria has drawn on her journalism background and love of storytelling and written a children’s storybook titled “Ouch”. Told through the eyes of her son, Alex, the book talks about Maria’s injury and her long road to recovery in a loving effort to help her children understand their family’s journey.
“I started writing the book because I wanted to make the kids feel really proud of me,” Maria said. “My kids are everything to me, I love them so much. This is something they can keep and hand down to the family generations to come.”
Maria is a fighter. She practices her walking every day and does physio at home and in the pool. If there’s a speech program available, Maria is there.
Ozcare visits Maria in the mornings to help with showering, and soon Maria will transition to NDIS, where the focus will be on increasing her independence and supporting her to achieve her goals by focusing on her strengths and abilities.
To quote the end of Maria’s book, “The end is only the beginning.”