Brain aneurysm steals memory, but not sense of humour
GOOMBURRA truck driver Peter Gilmore was bending over to polish a friend's mower one morning in August, when he started to feel dizzy.
Next thing he knew, Mr Gilmore was being flown to the Gold Coast to have a hole drilled in his skull to relieve the pressure that had built up as a result of a brain aneurysm the size of a 50-cent piece.
A stroke, multiple seizures and six rounds of surgery later, Mr Gilmore's life has been flipped on its head.
He is unable to drive, work, and has surprised himself by crying in movies, something is adamant he has never done before.
But while Mr Gilmore is adjusting to a new life full of emotions and limitations, he has not lost his sense of humour.
"I always wanted to ride in a chopper, I just didn't want to be on my back when I did it," he said.
Although he has now returned to his Goomburra home, Mr Gilmore doesn't actually remember the flight that saved his life.
Suffering extreme brain trauma, he even forgot he was married to his wife of 17 years, Helen.
"I did propose to her once again at the hospital," Mr Gilmore said.
"It was just about a month out from our wedding anniversary and I had to tell him we were already married!" Mrs Gilmore said.
Their life since the aneurysm has been full of funny and bizarre moments, but there is also a serious side to Mr Gilmore's condition.
Neither of the pair can work any more, as Mr Gilmore needs full-time supervision.
He's been told it will be five years until he can drive a truck again, if at all.
"Everything is so slow for me now... I've lost all my short-term memory," he said. "Sometimes there is no way in the world I can remember something, no matter how hard I think."
But one thing he does remember is that though there were warning signs, the aneurysm was something he never saw coming.
For months, Mr Gilmore experienced severe back pain and headaches, but he just put it down to his work.
"I live on a bumpy dirt road and drive a truck all day so I just thought that was putting my back out and causing the pain."
But these were signs of an aneurysm.
"If we can just create some awareness so other people know to go and get their symptoms checked out, maybe it could save a life," Mrs Gilmore said.
Common symptoms include severe headaches, nausea, dizziness and a stiff neck.
With the help of his wife, Mr Gilmore improves daily.
"From odd cups of tea and all, Helen deserves a medal for what she has put up with," Mr Gilmore said.