Josh gets back on the ball
First published in the Herald Sun on Monday 7 August
Josh Youngson likely owes his life to a lucky chance, and his dad.
Josh, 15, was home ill from school with a sore throat when Andrew Youngson felt the urge to go check on his son.
As Mr Youngson walked in the door of their Chelsea home, he heard what sounded like unusually loud snoring from his son’s bedroom.
But Josh wasn’t asleep.
His dad found him curled in a ball, his eyes rolled back; the snoring was the sound of him grunting and gurgling as he struggled to breathe.
“We thought he aspirated on his own vomit,” Josh’s mother Carol said. “But when he got to Monash Medical Centre they put him in an induced coma and found a massive bleed in his brain.
“The neurosurgeon said: ‘We need you to sign this form. Your son has had a stroke and we need to do emergency surgery on his brain.’ We looked at each other and said: ‘What? A stroke? He’s just a kid.’”
Hours later Josh was back in Intensive Care, 32 staples zigzagging down his head.
“It’s hard to explain how scared we were to see him there in ICU, connected to tubes and machines,” Mrs Youngson said.
His parents tag-teamed so he was never alone. Every day his dad gave him a pep talk, as if he were his soccer coach.
“We are a team and we are going to stick together,” he told the fervent Liverpool supporter, who usually sleeps surrounded by his team’s colours.
Josh Youngson can’t wait to get back on the soccer pitch, he has made a remarkable recovery from a stroke that almost killed him. Picture: Jason Edwards
And when Josh woke, he showed everyone he was determined to play on.
“He pulled his feeding tube out 10 times, and his first words were rotten ones warning the staff not to put them back in again,” Mrs Youngson said.
“He was so eager to get up that he even started walking again in ICU.”
Nine days later he was transferred to Monash Children’s Hospital for intensive rehabilitation.
Speech pathologist Stephen Wainrib said initially, Josh’s face had been expressionless, and he had been unable to track sounds, or track people with his eyes. But he was now speaking in sentences.
“Josh has shown quite a significant recovery, given where he came from, and the prognosis is looking really good,” Mr Wainrib said.
Josh cannot yet run, jump, hop or lift heavy weights, but he is walking, throwing and catching balls, and last week he scored a three-pointer in basketball therapy.
“He’s winning Connect Four and UNO, and last week he picked up a guitar. He hasn’t played for four years, but he still knew all the chords,” Mrs Youngson said.
Josh returned home at the weekend, after almost three months in hospital. “His main goal is to get back to playing soccer,” his mum said.
“He is a determined young man and with a positive outlook he will be playing again.”