Stroke survivor Terry Larkin reunited with Blackalls Swing Band

HIGH NOTE: Terry Larkin, seated right, with his colleagues from the Blackalls Swing Band, at their practice session this week. Mr Larkin's face lights up when he is reunited with the band. Picture: David Stewart

HIGH NOTE: Terry Larkin, seated right, with his colleagues from the Blackalls Swing Band, at their practice session this week. Mr Larkin's face lights up when he is reunited with the band. Picture: David Stewart

A LAKE Macquarie man who suffered a severe stroke and seemed destined to live the remainder of his life in a nursing home has defied conventional medical wisdom and returned to the band he loves.

In 2013, Terry Larkin was setting up to play a gig with his colleagues from Blackalls Swing Band, of Blackalls Park.

There’s never a good time or place to have a stroke, but Mr Larkin’s daughter and carer, Christine Dodd, said he was lucky.

“They were preparing to play at a nursing home and Dad started to feel disorientated and unwell and, fortunately, a couple of the nurses there recognised the symptoms of stroke,” Ms Dodd said.

“Having the nurses there on the spot probably saved his life.”

The stroke left Mr Larkin completely paralysed down his right side. He lost his speech, and his ability to read, write, use a computer, or carry out complex tasks such as play a musical instrument.

He spent three months in hospital, and the recurring advice from medical professionals was for Mr Larkin to be shifted to nursing home care.

Prior to his stroke, Mr Larkin had been living with Ms Dodd, and her family, at Warners Bay. And that’s where he wanted to return.

“By asking Dad a series of questions he was able to communicate to us that he really wanted to stay living at home. So we did everything we could to honour his wishes,” Ms Dodd said.

She set about securing a home care package for her father with the help of HammondCare.

“That moment changed our lives,” Ms Dodd Said.

“We were able to get access to funding for respite and personal care.”

Mr Larkin has slowly continued to reclaim his independence.

But it’s when he returns to band practice with his muso mates that Mr Larkin’s spirit soars.

“Dad’s hardly cried in the last three years, but when he comes here his eyes fill up,” Ms Dodd said. “It takes a lot for him to come here, but they all genuinely love to see him. He generally sits and listens. Sometimes he’ll hum along.”

Mr Larkin joined the band at 73 because “he wanted to learn to play the trombone”.

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