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'I wanted to fight for my kids' sake' - Michael Lynagh speaks about his stroke recovery

Ciaran Bradley
Ciaran Bradley

17:58 17 Oct 2019

Former Australia World Cup star has spoken movingly to Off The Ball about his experience of a major stroke in 2012, at our latest Rugby World Cup Roadshow in association with Heineken. 

What he initially believed to be partly due to jetlag, it was a major bleed on the brain that brought Michael's life into relief.

"The back artery [in the back of the neck] split and caused a bleed and swelling on the brain.

"I took a sip of beer that went down the wrong way, and I started coughing and choking. For various reasons, my artery split."

Black humour

Despite being in a dire situation, Michael remembers some of the more amusing aspects of what was a surreal experience.

"I remember this happening, and friends had called an ambulance. I was lying down, and the ambulance people had arrived.

"This young lady that was serving us was shouting 'Oh my god, what is going on here?'

"One of my friends said 'Don't worry love, we think it was the steak!'

"I started to laugh, and they were saying 'Don't laugh, don't laugh!'"

Michael Lynagh: pioneer patient

After believing that he would be visiting Brisbane, where the stroke occurred, for two nights - he stayed for two-and-a-half months.

Brain surgery was initially the course of action, but doctors decided on an unusual course of action.

"I'll never forget the two doctors coming in and saying 'We're not doing it.'

"They said 'You are functioning too well for what happened; we don't want to go in and do anything wrong. We are going to do it a different way.'"

That particular course involved dehydration to reduce the swelling, something that had never been tried by the surgical team before.

Family

"After about three days it was getting pretty bad. At one point, it was pretty late at night and I started thinking about my three boys.

"I made my mind up at that moment that I am going to fight this, and see my kids again."

Michael believes that this thought gave him the momentum needed to see his way through the courses of physiotherapy needed to get someone back to relative normality.

"I'm not saying that I have this huge mental power, but that decision to fight and the combination with the doctors and what they were doing started to work at the same time."

Catch the full #OTBBGET show is being streamed on Thursday night across Off The Ball's social channels.

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Australia Michael Lynagh Rugby Sport Stroke Wallabies

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