Don't let the pressure grow
Having a stroke is a bit like a hangover, says Blenheim man Pete Carpenter.
You don't think about your hangover on a Saturday night but then it runs up and smacks you on the back of the head, he explains.
"It's like running into a brick wall; you have to stop and gather your thoughts," the 54-year-old said. "My best advice is to get up and refocus. Don't sit back and moan; the world has not ended."
But don't wait for it to happen, either.
Mr Carpenter said people should get their blood pressure checked regularly.
"And ask your doctor what the numbers are. Don't let him just say it's OK. It might be 140/80 and in six weeks be 134/84.
"Doctors have a tendency to say it's OK, but you will know that it's creeping up. But that's the age-old thing with blokes - you don't go to the doctor."
Mr Carpenter, a yard manager with roading contractor T C Nicholl's, was just 43 when he suffered a stroke.
It happened between Christmas and New Year, when everybody should be enjoying themselves, he said.
He was asleep at the time.
"When I woke up, I couldn't walk and had funny vision. I had a fairly good idea it was a stroke, having done first aid courses through work."
His wife rushed him to Wairau Hospital, where he spent the next month recovering. "It's not my choice of holiday," he said. "But the biggest thing is to get to the hospital as soon as possible. And ring the ambulance so they [at the hospital] are ready for you."
Mr Carpenter lost the use of one arm and walks with a limp. His speech has also been affected, but mostly when he's tired.
"It's not bad at the moment but come [Friday], at the end of the week, I will sound half-drunk with a bit of a slur on."
He initially didn't think he would work for the same company again. He used to supervise the hot asphalt mix for sealing roads, and could no longer drive the trucks or use the machines.
Instead, he learned how to use a computer and improved his health and safety skills.
Mr Carpenter is one of five directors of the Stroke Foundation in New Zealand. He is the only director to have suffered a stroke. The others were all "suits" like lawyers and doctors, he said.
He is hoping Marlburians will take part in the foundation's blood pressure campaign tomorrow.
It would be holding free blood pressure tests at New World and Pak ‘n Save, he said.
"It is to raise awareness of blood pressure and to make people get checked who wouldn't normally get checked."
The supermarkets would get men coming into buy their Lotto tickets on a Saturday, he said.
- The Marlborough Express