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Man's best friend, the best kind of therapy!

Dan Preston was recovering from serious eye surgery when a stroke changed his life.

Home alone at the time, he was battling a persistent headache, but he assumed it was a result of the surgery, and the 57 stitches in his eye.

“My headache was excruciating, so I went out to the balcony to get some fresh air. But then I began to feel pins and needles in my arm,” Dan said.

“I wanted to go inside and lie down, but it was like my brain wasn’t listening to what my mind was asking. I was coherent but I couldn’t communicate properly.

“My husband Will arrived home from the gym and knew something was wrong. He called an ambulance and got me to hospital.”

It took several days for Dan to be told he’d suffered two strokes and had a hole in his heart. He spent months in hospital and then rehab, re-learning how to walk and talk.

As part of his recovery, the pair decided to adopt a companion dog to help Dan through his recovery.

“We adopted Tinka, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel exactly two months after my stroke. It’s funny, we say that we rescued her – she actually rescued us,” Dan said.

The stroke left Dan unable to return to his job as a Disability Support Worker.

“I had to do a lot of my rehab via telehealth, as it was during the height of the pandemic. I was feeling really fatigued, so my Mum suggested I start sewing,” Dan said.

“I found that threading a needle was great therapy, and making bow ties and bandanas for Tinka gave me a purpose, and the rest is history.

“Now we have a successful small business called Tinka & Co and travel to markets across the Central Coast selling our products to other dog lovers.”

Stroke Foundation Chief Executive Officer Dr Lisa Murphy said Dan’s story highlights the fact that stroke can happen at any time.

“We need all Australians to know the F.A.S.T. acronym because it saves lives. The faster people can recognise the signs of stroke, the faster they can get specialist treatment which in turn leads to better recovery and health outcomes for the patient,” Dr Murphy said.

Think F.A.S.T and ask these questions:
  • Face – Check their face. Has their mouth drooped?
  • Arms – Can they lift both arms?
  • Speech – Is their speech slurred? Do they understand you?
  • Time – Time is critical. If you see any of these signs, call 000 straight away.

MEDIA RELEASE, 2nd October 2023

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