Corey's road to recovery continues

FAMILY SUPPORT: Corey Swensson and son, Bjorn. Helping his five-year-old play games on his tablet has been a key part of Corey's recovery.
FAMILY SUPPORT: Corey Swensson and son, Bjorn. Helping his five-year-old play games on his tablet has been a key part of Corey's recovery.

Part of Corey Swensson's skull is on ice in Wellington Hospital waiting to be reunited with the Palmerston North father of two.

When that operation occurs - it is due to happen in the next few weeks - it will be another milestone in his recovery after he suffered two strokes in September.

It's a recovery he and wife Rochelle have, since Mr Swensson left hospital, largely been doing on their own after ACC refused to fund his rehabilitation.

"Corey's paid his taxes and his ACC levies all his life," Mrs Swensson said.

"Medically they've done everything; I reckon it cost $1 million [in medical expenses] to fix him. I thank them for that but, come on, help us with the rehab, carry it on."

The Ministry of Health funds two hours of physiotherapy and two hours of cognitive therapy for Mr Swensson each week.

Mrs Swensson says her husband needs far more than that if he is to get back to work, something he is determined to do.

"Everything we could imagine that he needs right now is there but we can't access it while we get the money together," Mrs Swensson said.

"He doesn't want to be on the invalid's benefit all of his life."

Mr Swensson does a lot of rehab at home, including exercises to strengthen his left arm and puzzles and games to retrain his brain.

To help raise money for his rehab, Mrs Swensson has started a Facebook group: Project Re-Building Corey.

In less than two weeks the page has received nearly 350 likes and helped the couple raise $4675.

"The response has been good," Mrs Swensson said.

"Heaps of people have come on board."

The reason Mr Swensson needs "rebuilding" goes back to the night of September 8 when he was assaulted and left with a cut lip, grazes to his face and a bruised neck.

In hindsight, Mrs Swensson thinks he suffered concussion.

Just 25 hours later, at 1am on September 10, Mr Swensson had the first of two strokes.

"He woke me up," Mrs Swensson said. "I thought he was having a dream. His body was spasming, his arm kept hitting me.

"He said something to me and it was slurred."

She turned on the light and realised her husband was having a stroke.

"I don't remember it," Mr Swensson said. "I remember things that didn't happen."

He was taken to Palmerston North Hospital and then flown to Wellington Hospital. There they offered him a 10 per cent chance of survival through a surgery to remove part of his skull.

With the surgery a success, Mr Swensson spent a week in Wellington's intensive care unit before being transferred back to Palmerston North Hospital and its Star Rehab Ward.

He had to relearn how to do almost everything.

"People tell you you can't walk, but I go: hang on I haven't tried it yet." Soon after his strokes, Mr Swensson was in a harness trying to walk.

Mrs Swensson: "I was just watching his foot trying to move, it would basically drag."

Mr Swensson: "There was just one point where I was able to move my leg."

Mrs Swensson: "For the strokes he had he should realistically be a vegetable."

Mr Swensson was home before Christmas and is now able to walk around the house, shower himself and dress himself, most of the time.

"The only thing he can't do is tie his shoelaces," Mrs Swensson said.

When the Manawatu Standard visited yesterday, Mr Swensson said he was feeling good.

He has issues with the left side of his body, including limited use of his arm. Outside the house he uses a walking stick and wears rugby headgear in case he falls.

Mrs Swensson is adamant the assault is linked to Mr Swensson's strokes and that ACC should help the couple.

"It doesn't take a brain scientist to figure that one out. Your brain's like a little sponge and if it gets banged around..."

Mr Swensson's employer, Humphries Construction, has told Mr Swensson it will make a job for him when he is ready.


Follow Corey Swensson's journey through the Facebook group Project-Re-Building-Corey. Donations can be made at or through an account at Westpac 03-1522-0447998-00.

Manawatu Standard