You don’t often meet people who have such a hunger for life like Sale local Melissa Tatterson, who herself is surrounded by a very positive family.

“Everyone is very happy, despite the fact that when I was (a patient) in The Alfred Hospital – I did actually die twice, and they were told that. And they were also told I would become a vegetable,” Ms Tatterson said.

But she beat all expectations. June 22, 2014 was the day Ms Tatterson’s life changed.

Ms Tatterson’s husband Matt and son Blake had gone to the movies that morning. Mrs Tatterson was feeling sleepy and had a headache so she took a nap, and her son Jimmy went to sleep as well. After she woke up, Matt asked how she was feeling.

Sale local Melissa Tatterson has expressed her gratitude to The Alfred Hospital for saving her life after she suffered an aneurysm and stroke in 2014. She’s been very lucky to watch her boys Jimmy (left) and Blake grow up, as she was not expected to survive her transfer to The Alfred from Sale Hospital. Photo: Stefan Bradley

“I wasn’t feeling too bad,” Ms Tatterson said. Most of the next six weeks are a blur.

“Apparently I sat down in my recliner and started having a seizure,” she said.

“I had an aneurysm, which ended up resulting in a stroke. If I had the seizure while Matt and Blake were at the movies I wouldn’t be here.”

After being rushed to Sale Hospital, she was taken via helicopter to The Alfred in Melbourne, during which her family were told she was not expected to survive.

But she made it.

“I spent six weeks in the Alfred Hospital, and then moved to a field hospital for my rehab. I did my rehab there until I got discharged on October 5,” she said.

“But I was also the luckiest person to be discharged from the new stroke rehab centre in Caulfield, which I was very happy about and from then, I’ve been back for two check-ups at the Alfred. They’ve both been handled positively and I’m recovering.”

While she doesn’t remember much of those early weeks, Ms Tatterson’s parents made a photo journal that documented her treatment.

“I would ask them questions but they would be too upset to communicate…so they put (the journal) together,” Ms Tatterson said.

One of the photos in Melissa Tatterson’s photo journal for her treatment. Photo: Contributed.

It’s a brilliant and personal reminder for Ms Tatterson on how far she’s come since 2014. She’s still not able to commit to working full-time, but three days a week is a big improvement from a time when a half-day would tire her out.

Knowing how close her kids were to the prospect of growing up without a mum, Ms Tatterson is very thankful to The Alfred, and last week she caught up with two friends from The Alfred Foundation, Marlo Newton and Melinda Whitehouse, at Stephenson Park in Sale.

Ms Newton said she and Ms Whitehouse have been meeting supporters and donors as part of a ‘good will gratitude tour’, including a lunch in Sale on Friday.

“We’ve been touring all over – Bairnsdale, Neerim, Sale, Traralgon. And when we heard Melissa’s story, we wanted to say hello,” Ms Newton said.

Ms Whitehouse said The Alfred has relationships with hospitals throughout Gippsland, with clinicians going to these areas on a regular basis.

Thanks to collaboration with Alfred Health, Central Gippsland Health has enhanced its neurology service.

“The Alfred is a statewide service – we have 18 statewide services so we’re not just about Melbourne,” Ms Whitehouse said.

“The most complex cases come to The Alfred.”

Melissa Tatterson with her husband Matt. Photo: Contributed.

This is why it’s essential that The Alfred Hospital is supported.

“I think it’s a really worthwhile cause…because it invests in all of Victoria’s health, not just Melbourne,” Ms Whitehouse said.

To make a contribution to The Alfred Foundation, go to alfredhealth.org.au/the-alfred-foundation