KARYN RICHES – MEMBER OF THE MONTH – AUGUST 2018

There’s a quote I can definitely relate to and that is “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

I’m a girl that grew up in Wainuiomata, a town just out of Wellington, New Zealand. ! didn’t really have any mentors growing up but I was influenced by people like Maya Angelou and Emily Pankhurst.

I have been working in the ageing and disability sector for over 31 years both in direct care and in the office. In the last seven years I’ve been working as a client coordinator for various organizations and I’d have to say, I find my field of work very rewarding because I assign caregivers to aged care clients daily and it feels great providing a service for the aged care community.

In 2012, a week away from Christmas I had a near death experience. It was after six weeks of intense headaches, I woke in the middle of the night thinking my head was going to explode. I took some Panadeine Forte and went back to bed thinking that I would wake in the morning and finally my headache would be gone.

Ten minutes later I was vomiting and felt dreadful.

I contacted my housemate who just happened to be a nurse and she suggested I go to hospital straight away – I stupidly thought I could drive myself – but I couldn’t!

The staff at the A & E department of my local hospital triaged me straight away and took note of my symptoms and believed I had an aneurysm but I had to wait until staff arrived in the morning for an MRI.

My biggest concern was that I was on call for work and needed to hand the phone back. I called my boss and told her that I was in hospital with a suspected aneurysm but I would probably be back the next day – I had no idea what I was in for!!!

After the MRI, Doctors told me I needed to be transferred to the Royal North Shore Hospital immediately.

My head was still pounding but I was thrown into an ambulance and driven to St Leonards bouncing around like a pinball – OMG, the pain!

I was seen by a specialist who told me that I had what is known as the ‘33% disease’ and that was my chance of surviving.  I either have the operation and come out ok or I was going to have a stroke or I was going to die. Whilst this was all being said to me, my youngest daughter was sitting in the waiting room and I thought oh no…my girl needs me so I opted for Number 1. I was determined I was going to live!

The operation was scheduled for the next day and I was in theatre for four hours, where I apparently died on the operating table. The operation was a success after having two ‘flow diverters’ inserted into my head because the bulge was too big to ‘coil’.

After five days recovering in hospital I was allowed out because it was Christmas Day. My oldest daughter came back home from Canada because both my daughters thought I was not going to be around.

I was off work for six weeks and luckily my sight in my right eye recovered, which would not open for several weeks.

I was so grateful to all my family and friends for chauffeuring me around for many weeks as  I was not allowed to drive anywhere and I was so appreciative to all the people that dropped off meals to me – absolute angels!!!

After returning to work, I knew that my working strengths lied within helping people not in inanimate objects! I am a people person which may be a cliché but I love people, I love meeting new people and learning about their lives and interacting with them and I think this has lead me on a pathway to success. I stay focused…eye on the ball, to not be negative….there is always a positive, to be flexible in your actions, focus on what your goal is.

My children have inspired me to get up every day and meet the day’s challenges head on and now I have two grandchildren which means I am doubly blessed.

In my spare time I enjoy travelling, socializing and reading.

I would love to say in the next five years, I will retire and travel the world but chances are I’ll continue to work and enjoy the lifestyle I’ve created for myself.

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