A Port Fairy man has spent the past two months trying to do what he was unable to do on the worst day of his life.
Justin Williams, 47, regrets he was unable to thank the person who got him through one of the scariest hours of his life.
On August 4, Mr Williams was rushed to hospital in Melbourne after experiencing a stroke.
He admits he had been burning the candle at both ends, with many jobs on the go for his business iXplainIT Technology Training.
"I was tired - really, really tired," Mr Williams said.
He said he had a severe headache, which he assumed was due to fatigue.
Mr Williams said he had stayed up late working the night before and was desperate to go back to bed after an early start, but a long to-do list and looming deadlines forced him to push the need for sleep to the back of his mind.
His wife Dianne was preparing to go out and asked him a question.
"I think I'm talking but I'm not, it's a really weird feeling," Mr Williams said.
Mrs Williams instantly knew something was wrong.
"She looks worried and I don't know why she is concerned," Mr Williams said.
"I feel fine and my headache is gone."
Mrs Williams asked her husband if he could raise his arms and if he could smile.
"I can, I'm fine, but she insists and calls triple-0," he said.
Mr Williams said his voice came back and he told his wife he was fine.
"But then I stop talking again," he said.
"It's really bizarre, it's funny."
Mr Williams was taken by his wife to Moyne Health Services' urgent care unit.
He was then rushed to South West Healthcare's Warrnambool Base Hospital.
Mr Williams said being unable to move his mouth to speak was surreal.
"If you watch The Matrix, the scene where Keanu Reeves has his mouth taken away, that's probably the best way to describe it," he said.
"I couldn't conceive the concept of communication."
Mr Williams said he began to think about his children Jonah, 18, and Caitlin, 16, and what they were doing.
When he arrived at the emergency department in Warrnambool, he was cared for by a kind and caring nurse.
"I want to thank her for everything but I just can't speak," Mr Williams said.
After a CT scan he was told he had suffered a stroke and needed to get to Melbourne for surgery as soon as possible.
Mr Williams said it was at this moment that the severity of the situation dawned on him.
"For the first time in my life I have absolutely no control over what is happening and people who I have never met are going to determine what happens to me next," he said.
"Deadlines and projects which were super urgent just an hour-and-a -half-ago are now totally irrelevant."
Mr Williams said his wife appeared and he became emotional.
"I am so terrified," he said.
"The reality of it all has sunk in. They are going to take me to Melbourne in a helicopter."
Mr Williams, forever the joker, remembers thinking about the impending trip.
"In my mind I'm estimating the cost of flying a helicopter to Melbourne and I don't think I need a helicopter, I'm not that important," he said.
However, he was excited at the prospect.
"I think I would love to fly in a helicopter, that would be super cool," Mr Williams said.
"But I don't recommend to anyone to have a stroke to get a free flight in a helicopter," he joked.
Mr Williams said he enjoyed the view in the helicopter and wished he had his camera.
He couldn't speak and couldn't move his right arm.
His thoughts returned to his children.
"I'm thinking 'this is going to affect them and their exams and I feel terrible," Mr Williams said.
"I don't know what I'm going to be like when I come home and see them again."
Mr Williams said he was kept calm in the ambulance by a male paramedic.
"I really appreciate what he's doing and I hope he knows that," he said.
Less than an hour later he was wheeled into an operating theatre.
Mr Williams said he was devastated when he was unable to thank the paramedic who reassured him.
"I tried to say goodbye but I couldn't - bloody mouth and bloody brain," he said.
Mr Williams awoke later and found he couldn't speak.
But he persisted.
"I try to talk and nothing comes out," Mr Williams said.
"I try again and I manage a grunt and that was great because that was where my recovery began."
The next day Mr Williams spoke to his wife and children via Facetime and was delighted when he was able to say his son's name.
He spent six days in hospital in Melbourne and another four in the Warrnambool Base Hospital.
Mr Williams had to learn to speak again.
He recalls attempting to recite the alphabet and silently cheering when he reached the letter d.
Mr Williams said his health scare had changed his outlook on life.
"It was the worst day of my life but it was also the luckiest day of my life," he said.
Mr Williams said his wife's quick-thinking meant the effects of the stroke were only temporary.
He said if he had gone to bed and slept the damage may have been worse and possibly permanent.
Mr Williams said the moment he realised he was going to be OK came when he watched one of his favourite movies - Revenge of the Sith.
"I understood everything (in the movie) and I thought 'I'm still me, I know everything, I haven't forgotten everything, physically I'm OK, this is just a glitch'.
"I have nothing to complain about.
"I am so happy and so lucky."
Mr Williams said he was overwhelmed by the support from the whole community.
He said he had received so many messages from friends and clients.
Mr Williams said he had printed out the messages and read them regularly, which always put a smile on his face.
He said he was extremely grateful to his employee Rhiannon Kirkwood, who had ensured his business could continue, his wife for her ongoing support, his children, the staff at both hospitals, the paramedic who calmed his nerves in the helicopter and everyone who had helped with his recovery.
"Everyone in Port Fairy and Warrnambool has been so supportive," he said.
"I wouldn't want to live anywhere else."
Mr Williams has started a YouTube channel to share his journey.
He wants to offer hope to other stroke victims and ensure people act quickly if they experience any symptoms.
"Down the track I might get out and speak to other victims," he said.
"It would be good to give something back."
Mr Williams has also documented his attempts to master tongue twisters on his videos.
He said it was amazing to watch his progress and if it gave other people a laugh "that's a good thing".
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