If there’s one word to describe Toula, it’s positive.
At the age of thirty-eight, Toula had two strokes which left her unconscious on the floor of her home for five days until she was found. As a result of these strokes, she suffered two aneurysms which would have an ever-lasting effect on her life.
Toula stayed at the Royal Adelaide Hospital for three months and the Hampstead Rehabilitation Centre for fifteen months whilst she was recovering. The two strokes affected the left side of Toula’s body, including her foot, arm, and hand.
Toula went through extensive physical exercises as part of her rehabilitation. This involved many hydrotherapy and gym sessions in building up her leg muscles to help her stay balanced when walking.
During the first six months of Toula’s recovery, she lost the ability to speak and had to use head movements and eye signals to communicate. After months of communicating non-verbally, Toula woke up one morning and suddenly started talking again to the surprise of hospital staff and family members.
During Toula’s recovery, she received distressing news about her future lifestyle. Toula was told she would have to reside at the Hampstead Rehabilitation Centre for the rest of her life, unable to drive a motor vehicle and live independently in her home.
Although this news came as a shock to Toula, she used it as a motivating factor to regain her independence.
Toula continued with her physical classes for several more years until she could walk freely, achieving the goal she had worked so hard for. Today, she can confidently walk around her neighbourhood and access the community.
As Toula was striving to regain her independence, she enrolled in a training course to drive a car equipped with modifications that suited her capabilities. A ‘click’ system was fitted on the right-hand side of her car steering wheel, allowing her to operate functions such as accelerating and braking.
Toula’s goal when she joined Enhanced Lifestyles was to increase her independence by learning how to cook more healthy recipes. She has formed a great working relationship with her Lifestyle Attendant, Sussan, who supports her in researching different recipes and cooking each Thursday.
Toula has also been supported to explore new hobbies that tap into her creative spirit. Before her aneurysms, Toula used her creative skills to paint pictures that she would display around her home and give to her family. During a visit to the Unley Community Centre in early 2021, Toula discovered a crochet group called ‘Knit & natter’ and instantly became involved. Toula picked up the activity very quickly and is well on her way to finishing her first clothing item, a beanie, using only her right hand.
Another hobby that Toula is supported with is regularly seeking out $10 schnitzels at different pubs around Adelaide with her Lifestyle Attendant, Sussan.
Toula is actively involved with Enhanced Lifestyles’ customer engagement events and has never missed one to date. Through these events, Toula has made long-lasting friendships with fellow customers and staff of the organisation. Toula has a way of connecting with people and brightening their day with her infectious personality.
Toula feels that she has achieved so much during her journey with Enhanced Lifestyles to increase her independence and has no plans of slowing down.
Her next major goal is to go on a holiday cruise ship around Australia, which she has never had the opportunity to do in her life.
Toula has inspired many people with her courage and determination to keep moving forward despite the odds.
Enhanced Lifestyles looks forward to supporting Toula every step of the way to reach her goals and maintain independence.