• Julie DeLorenzo, Portrait of J, Oil on canvas, 2020

Julie DeLorenzo  |  Student Reflection

For this project, I hadn’t planned to do a literal portrait, so doing a phone interview without any visual reference made it challenging and enriching. The process gave me the opportunity to listen as actively as I could, to get a sense of someone I had never met. J suffered a stroke in January 2019 and consequently spent two weeks in Ballina Hospital and 3½ months in rehabilitation.

In my painting, I have included images that represent J’s life when she worked for Speedo in the 1970s, sewing swimwear and later with her own business making clothing including uniforms and ballet costumes.

J keeps her mind active with crosswords and Sudoku. One of the activities that was a positive experience for her in rehabilitation was to make a collage using four green hearts joined together to make a four-leaf clover. I have made this the central image as it also represents luck and good blessings. Beneath it is the sun, as J makes a point each day to do something positive for herself, no matter how small. As she learns to think more laterally, her positive outlook - the rays of the sun and the four-leaf clover emanate outwards continuing her healing journey.

Patient Story  |  'Scruffy'

On Valentine’s Day, I had a seizure. I started shaking, couldn’t stop and passed out. Then last year, I had a stroke. My left arm doesn’t work at all now - I can’t even feel my fingers. It has also affected my left leg and I have double vision. I need help to get around. I can’t transfer by myself and I am dependent 24 hours a day. The stroke and seizure left my brain all grey and “fuzzed up”. I am now on anti-seizure medication which slows down my brain. I speak slower.  Being dependent on people is hard. I ran my own sewing business making dance costumes; that’s all gone. Each day, I do something for myself. I can peel an orange now with one hand.

Advice to others: “Don’t ignore the symptoms. I didn’t know the symptoms, otherwise, I would have been to the doctor much sooner.  If it does happen stay positive and you and will have a much better chance”.


A stroke occurs from a sudden interruption in the blood supply to the brain. Most strokes are caused by clots with the minority caused by bleeding into brain tissue. Seizures can be a complication of stroke.

To learn more about stroke, visit the Stroke Foundation 



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