Lydia was a healthy, independent woman working full-time in Nelson and living a fun-filled, sociable life until 2010 when a tumour was detected on her brain.

Lydia travelled to Christchurch for surgery to remove the tumour, but unfortunately during the operation she suffered a life-changing stroke.

“All of a sudden, I went from being able to do what I wanted, when I wanted, to losing the use of my legs and not being able to support myself financially,’’ Lydia explains.

“That’s really challenging to get your head around. You’re going in for a straightforward surgery and you come out with a new, life-altering health issue to deal with. But after processing what this meant for me, I said to myself ‘life is for living’ and I wasn’t going to dwell on the hand life had dealt me.’’

With the support of the Laura Fergusson Trust, Lydia kept that attitude throughout an intensive rehabilitation programme at Christchurch’s Burwood Hospital. She built back her strength and learnt to do as much as she could for herself, using a motorised wheelchair.

While in rehabilitation, Lydia decided she needed to stay in Christchurch so she could be close to her Canterbury-based family. She moved into an accessible Kāinga Ora home and has lived there happily for the past 13 years.

“I just love it here. It’s close to Mum and Dad and it’s provided me with a stable base to focus on my health and not dwell on what’s been thrown my way. Although I may need a bigger place soon as the Smurfs really are taking over,” she says with a grin as she surveys the growing collection of Smurf figurines on display in her living room.

Lydia not only loves the home she lives in, but she also loves the community she lives in and has built a network of friendships across north-west Christchurch.

She is a regular at the local retirement village’s ‘happy hour’ and at the local shops and gym.

“Because my home is so well located, I can bus to appointments across town. But wherever possible I try to get myself where I need to go in my chair. I must be out and about more than I think, because people around the neighbourhood now recognise me and wave!

“The upside of all of this is that I see a lot of sun and it helps me keep this tanned goddess look,” she jokes.

Lydia’s growing smurf collection.

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Page updated: 14 May 2024