Naomi Burns

Minutes Moved:

900 minutes

For the last 4 years I’ve cared for my husband who suffered a stroke at the age of 33. I now also have the privilege of spending my days working as a speech pathologist helping people post stroke.

The stroke foundation provide essential research and guidelines that ensure the best care and advocacy for stroke survivors. 

Stroke is one of Australia’s biggest killers and a leading cause of disability.

In Australia currently, 12% of people say they won’t have exercised this week. One million strokes a year globally are linked to physical inactivity. One of the things we can do to reduce our risk of stroke, or secondary stroke, is to keep active.

So this November I’m taking part in Stride4Stroke to raise vital funds and awareness for Stroke Foundation.

Stroke Foundation is committed to raising community awareness about stroke and stroke prevention, advocating for increased access to specialised stroke treatment and rehabilitation care, and supporting research into innovative treatments for the benefit of all Australians.

Please join me in my fight against stroke today by donating and helping share my story.

Thank you in advance.

My Updates

Part 9

Life looks different now. There are days that are more normal, though they are not the normal we ever expected. These are the days that I’m so grateful to have found an incredible career where I spend my days doing something I love, helping people at one of the hardest times of their lives. 

And then there are days that I come home and Mat is so fatigued he can’t get off the couch, or say a single word, and days when he rings me to ask what type of fuel to put in the new car because his brain just cannot work it out. These are the days that I am reminded that no matter how far from the stroke were are, it will continue to impact our lives forever. 

Part 8

The next two years were incredibly difficult as we balanced therapies, study, family and fatigue. We were incredibly blessed to find a GP who supported us in finally seeking the support we needed. Mat was approved for the NDIS and found therapists to help him continue his recovery. 

But we made it through and I was able to get a job as a speech pathologist at our local hospital. 

I feel so incredibly privileged that I now get to work with families who are in the same situation I was just 4 years ago. I am also so grateful for the stroke foundation who offered us information and support throughout our journey and who continue to do the same for all my patients.
 
This year I’m doing stride4stroke in honour of both my husband and my patients and I am so proud to be raising money for such a wonderful organisation. 

Part 7

That year Mat’s recovery continued, but it didn’t take long to realise that this was going to be a very long journey. He was discharged from all therapies and told ‘you’re young, just live your life and you will recover’. But Mat was still struggling with significant fatigue, he was only able to communicate his basic needs and struggled to spend any time with our two young children (18months and 3 years). 

It was another year before we moved from just ‘surviving’ to thinking about the future. We realised that Mat was unlikely to return to work any time soon, and that I would have to become the main earner for the family. It had been a long held dream of mine to become a speech pathologist, which was only affirmed more following Mat’s stroke. So we made the decision to move interstate so that I could study speech pathology. 

Part 6

After all that Mat had been through, one of the scariest things was going into that surgery, not knowing how it could impact him, but knowing if he didn’t have it the risk of another bleed was increasing exponentially. Fortunately the surgery went very well and we didn’t see many major setbacks (though on later reflection we’ve noticed a number of small changes with a big impact which we wonder about). 

During the 2 weeks we lived interested for the surgery I began to realise that I couldn’t continue to care for 2 young kids as well as Mat on my own. Unfortunately we were discouraged from applying for any kind of support (disability pension or NDIS) so I felt very much alone. 

The day we returned from interstate we moved house - into a place that we shared with some amazing friends who spent the next year helping us so Mat could focus on his recovery

Part 5


At the end of 6 weeks in hospital we still had no answers about the management of the AVM which was a ticking time bomb in Mat’s brain. After being too fatigued to attend rehab for a number of days in a row it was recommended Mat present to ED for follow up. We were fortunate to be seen by a dr who had treated Mat right at the start and he was surprised to hear that no management plan had been made for Mat’s AVM, as the team at our hospital had referred his case to another hospital. He said he would sort it out. 

2 days later we received a phone call from an interstate hospital and were told we needed to make arrangements for brain surgery the next week

Part 4

Rehab was full of ups and downs for us. Mat made very quick progress and was able to say simple words and sentences. But he also experienced episodes of ‘turning off’ where he was unable to move or speak. He had many investigations - scans to check for another stroke (there were none), ECGs to check for seizures (also none). No one could ever explain these episodes to us - they still happen very occasionally when he’s super fatigued. 

Our two boys were amazingly resilient. They thought it was great fun that daddy talked using an iPad. One day we got to take him out for the day, so we went to a museum that we would often go to as a family. When we walked in our three year old proudly announced ‘my daddy is in a wheelchair and he talks like a robot’. 

Despite this, we were incredibly aware that things had changed forever. Mat, who was previously a present, engaged, active father, could barely manage the energy for a simple conversation with our kids. 

After 3 weeks in rehab Mat was discharged. What some would think of as the ‘end’ of the journey, was really just the start for us

Part 3

I went back to the hospital the next day, having no idea what to expect. 

After 2 CT scans the doctors still couldn't find a clear cause for the stroke and it was only days later after an MRI and an angiogram that they found he had an AVM (arteriovenous malformation) - a tangle of arteries that had been there since birth and unexpectedly ruptured, bleeding into his brain. 

During those first few days Mat had some recovery to his right side - it remained weak, but he was able to walk, shower and toilet independently. Unfortunately he couldn’t say a single word. For three weeks he remained completely unable to speak due to severe apraxia of speech and aphasia. At this point he was transferred to rehab and started intensive speech therapy

Part 2

When we arrived at the hospital Mat was whisked away and I was ushered into a room with a couch and a tissue box. At that point I knew it was serious. I’d been to ED many times before and never seen this room. Some time later a doctor came and spoke to me, asking me lots of questions about Mat. They told me he’d had a stroke but they were trying to work out the cause - he didn’t seem to have any risk factors. 
Two wonderful friends turned up posing as family (all our family we’re interstate) and sat with me in that room while we waited to hear what was going on. 
Eventually I was allowed to go and see him he still couldn’t talk or move his right side. He tried to type something on his phone but it didn’t make any sense. Intermittently throughout the evening he was laughing hysterically for no reason. Eventually the doctors told me he would be admitted and that I should go home, as there was nothing more they would do that night. I did go home, but I don’t think either of us slept much that night. 

My story part 1

Over the coming days I’m going to share my story - this is why I’m doing stride4stroke. 

PART 1
At 8pm on the 9th July My husband Mathew and I sat down for dinner when he was suddenly unable to speak clearly - slurring his speech and saying nonsense words. 

By some miracle I had read some information just days earlier about how to recognise a stroke and I knew ‘speech’ was one of the signs. I asked him to smile and raise his arms, which he could do without difficulty, but his speech was still coming out jumbled, so I called an ambulance. By the time it arrived the right side of his face had dropped and he was struggling to move the right side of his body. A second ambulance arrived and all 4 paramedics worked together to get him in the ambulance. I remember praying the noise of all the people wouldn’t wake our 2 young children who were just 3 years old and 18months at the time. 

So far I have helped Stroke Foundation deliver…

Advice and support from a health professional on StrokeLine

Stroke recovery packs to 3 survivors of stroke.

Training to a StrokeSafe volunteer to deliver community talks.

Funding to stroke researchers to find the next game-changer in stroke.

Thank you to my Sponsors

$150

Chris & Kathryn Hall

Well done Naomi. Love to you both.

$135

Christie-lee And Michael Pickering

Good on you Naomi. You are amazing!

$104.40

Luke & Hayley

$104.40

Shona & Robbie Hunt

Well done Naomi! Say hello to everyone for us.

$104.40

Dianne Holliday

Great cause Naomi!

$100

Debbie Johnson

Go Naomi! Great cause ! Can’t wait to see how you go. Love Debbie and Wayne xx

$100

Anonymous

Good work Naomi. Hope you achieve your goal

$78.30

Emma Biddle

$78.30

Sara Aylett

So much love for you guys xx

$78.30

James & Ellen Algeo

$52.20

Jami

Go Naomi! You are one strong woman

$52.20

Nicole Baxter

$52.20

Ros & Dave

You are an inspiration Naomi, persevering through difficulties. Dave & I pray for you regularly.

$52.20

Joy Tattam

$52.20

Riley Johnson

$52.20

Anonymous

$52.20

Keith Jarrett

$52.20

Cat Colwell

$52.20

Anonymous

$52.20

Tracy Ortiz

You both are an inspiration. Wish you weren’t so far away.

$52.20

Karen Conway

$52.20

Alice Hall

$50

Erin Holliday

You’re amazing! x

$50

Anonymous

$50

Rachel Uhlman

$50

Ronelle Hewetson

$50

Lauren F

Such a great cause Naomi ♥️

$50

Anonymous

Proud of you

$46.98

Natalie Green

$45

Mark

Go for it. You’re amazing !

$31.32

Mark Calder

$31.32

G B

Good on you Naomi!

$31.32

Anonymous

$26.10

Kate Cunneen

$20.88

Christie Jenkins

$20.88

Mylee Suarna

You are smashing it! Such a brilliant speechie ❤

$20.88

Anonymous

$20.88

Barbara Spicer

We love you guys!!

$20.88

Merrin

You are an inspiration Naomi!

$10.44

Jasmin Davies

$10.44

Brooke Higgins

$10.44

Jason Leach