When Marie and Darryl first met some 36 years ago, Marie was anything but smitten. During trips to the quiet suburban streets of Cranbourne, which she often took to babysit a little girl, she would bump into Darryl next door. At first, she didn’t think much of him, but he turned out to be “Mr Romantic” and won Marie over “well and truly.
Their relationship started off with a simple candle-lit dinner, a shop-bought cooked chook, and a single rose. Soon after that, they got hitched and Darryl became a dad to Marie’s four children from a previous marriage. Over the years their brood grew, with two more kids, and 15 grandchildren – creating a happy TV-like Brady Bunch family.
But in 2018, things took a bad turn.
The couple’s whole world came crashing down when Darryl suffered a major stroke. It left the 62-year-old transport business owner paralysed on his entire right side and affected his speech and memory.
According to Marie, one silver lining to come out of this awful tragedy is the care and support the couple has since been receiving from the team at Sunrise2Sunrise. They’ve helped soften the blow of misfortune.
Marie says, “We look at them as family,” and calls them their, “guardian angels.”
Grieving for a Life Lost
Before Darryl’s 58th birthday, Marie says he was a go-getter. He spent some years running his own transport business, delivering building materials like steel to construction sites.
Reflecting on what her husband used to be like, Marie remembers, “Daryl was always an independent man and when things needed to be done, they were done. There was no putting it off till tomorrow.”
Since then, Marie has seen her husband encounter the same medical condition as his own mother and older brother. Unfortunately, neither survived their experience with stroke.
These days Marie says Darryl is a shadow of his former self and struggles with episodes of major depression.
“He just wants to go upstairs,” declares Marie with palpable sadness in her voice.
“He’s been in bed since October and hasn’t got out of it,” she explains.
The emotional toll the stroke has taken on Darryl has been worsening, according to Marie.
“He goes through night traumas now, which is pretty upsetting to see. And Darryl has also started having seizures.”
Surviving Stroke & Coping With Change
When Darryl’s life turned upside down, Marie honoured her vows of ‘for better, or worse’ and stepped in to become his sole carer. But between the stress of looking after Darryl and her own aging mum, she soon found herself in hospital after experiencing a heart attack.
It was the wake-up call she needed to reach out for help.
With the support of Sunrise2Sunrise she now gets the respite she needs, while knowing that Darryl is also getting the best possible care.
According to Marie, Darryl’s carers do absolutely everything he wants – from making him his favourite sandwiches to ensuring that he gets to sip on his choice of sugar-free soft drink.
Entertainment and engagement are also a big part of Darryl’s care plan. In fact, his carers can often be found playing a game of UNO with him.
“Darryl likes to beat them. If he’s losing, he cancels the game, and he cheats when they walk out of the room,” chuckles Marie.
The difficult aspects of Darryl’s life are also tackled head-on. His carers have a regular routine to ensure Darryl is bathed, groomed, his toilet needs are met, and his medication is taken on time.
Marie says what’s most commendable about Darryl’s carers is that they pay attention to every single minor detail and go above and beyond, like ensuring the smudges on his glasses are wiped clean.
“They’re there for him 110%. Whether it’s to have a chat, whether it’s to just play games or watch TV together, or anything.”
A Reason to Smile After a Life-changing Ordeal
On most days a carer from Sunrise2Sunrise will spend upwards of six hours with Darryl. According to Marie, sometimes the carers will even stay back and cook dinner for the couple.
“When he used to be able to go out, they would even cut up his food for him,” explains Marie.
Marie finds this sort of conduct a sign of real care. She says it’s, “heart-warming” and a welcome relief when things can be taxing – it helps take the edge off certain days.
Even with Darryl’s low mood, Marie has observed that the carers have an ability to light him up.
“He’s quite chirpy when they’re here. So, when they go, he sort of goes flat a bit. He looks forward to them coming,” enthuses Marie.
Marie realises that she can’t wind back the clock. However, her love for Darryl means she won’t give up on his recovery.
“I’m hoping he wants to get back to rehab and we’re trying to get him there.”