Greg suffered a major stroke in late 2022, something he understatedly describes as an ‘interesting experience’.

Greg and speech pathologist Julia Gorton
Greg with speech pathologist Julia Gorton

After receiving life-saving treatment at the RMH, it left him with a long road to recovery, including learning how to swallow again.

“I had to have a nasal gastric tube (NGT) down my throat, for about a month,” Greg said.

“Food went straight into my stomach, so getting rid of that and being able to eat something and taste something was a remarkable experience.”

The first sweet taste of food passing his lips was made possible thanks to the help and support of our RMH rehabilitation team – including speech pathologist Julia Gorton.

“When I first met Greg, he was only having very small serves of a puree diet, so it was very smooth and thick,” Julia said.

“Making sure that it went down the right way was sort of rehab in itself, because initiating or starting a swallow was really, really difficult for him.

“From there, we did some more exercises and x-rays to see how all of Greg’s swallowing muscles had changed over time to then adapt our program for him.”

By working together with Julia and the team, Greg’s diet continued to improve – progressively re-learning how to swallow foods with greater texture.

“All the allied health and speech therapy people were very patient during the various speech therapy exercises,” Greg said.

“We graduated to bread, but prior to that was soft, minced food in a very thickened form. It came with pieces of paper which told you what it was meant to be, which was just as well!

“I can eat fairly normally now, as long as I’m careful. Who knew there was so much involved in swallowing?”

With his recovery well on track, Greg is now looking forward to picking up his baton once again as he prepares to return to his day job as a conductor with Melbourne Opera.

“Like everybody else in this place we’re very grateful of all the help we get – both the stroke unit and the rehab ward – the culture is fantastic. The culture of being there is just wonderful, it’s actually inspirational.

“I’m now saving up to buy up as many lottery tickets as I can for the Royal Melbourne lottery!

Mobile Stroke Unit with Ambulance Victoria paramedic and the RMH Stroke team
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