Stroke survivor's road show

SPEAKING OUT: Rodney Hopson is determined to raise awareness of stroke and stroke prevention in country areas.
SPEAKING OUT: Rodney Hopson is determined to raise awareness of stroke and stroke prevention in country areas. Irene Dowdy

RODENY Hopson was making a sandwich and a cup of coffee when his life changed forever.

"I went to go over to eat it, and I crashed into the coffee table," the central Queensland former farmer and truck driver said.

"I knocked bark off me everywhere and there was blood going everywhere, I remember saying to myself, 'I think I am having a stroke'."

Rodney's fears were confirmed, and 7-10 days spent after in the Gladstone Hospital, then a further four or five weeks of rehabilitation at the Marter Hospital in Brisbane, he is still living with the impacts of stroke.

The family farm, which was situated outside of Ubobo, has been sold and daily tasks, like eating a piece of steak, can be challenging.

Determined to raise awareness of stroke, Rodney has planned a tour across the Queensland outback.

He is set to clock up some serious kilometres as part of National Stroke Week, driving from Bluff to Winton.

He will stop in at communities along the way sharing his experience and raising stroke awareness.

"It's been seven years since my stroke and I will be honest with people about the impact it has had on my life, on my loved ones and my business - which I had to give up," he said.

Rodney has lost some movement in his left arm and left leg.

"If you bought me a schooner of beer, and I walked down the street with it, it would be empty before got back. Because my left hand couldn't hold it still for long enough," he said.

Rodney has labelled the drive Rodney's Roadshow and said he was looking forward to taking vital health messages to regional Queenslanders.

"I was a truck driver and a farmer for a long time,'' Rodney said.

"I've seen a huge gap between stroke treatments available to city, coastal and country people."

A recent Stroke Foundation report found people in rural and regional areas were 19% more likely to suffer a stroke.

Regional and rural Australians were also likely to suffer poorer outcomes from stroke due to limited access to best-practice treatment and care.

"This is a worrying situation. The best thing for country people to do is to look after their health and try to prevent having a stroke,'' Rodney said.

Stroke Foundation executive director of Stroke Services Toni Aslett said stroke can be prevented.

"Stroke is largely preventable. Little things can make a big difference in reducing your stroke risk. Monitor and manage your blood pressure to ensure it is not high, don't smoke, exercise regularly, eat healthy and don't drink too much alcohol,'' she said.

Topics:  stroke awareness