An ideal family life trashed by ice

Mick and his wife Nicole have spoken out about the devastation caused to their family by the drug ice. Picture: Geoff Robson

Mick and his wife Nicole have spoken out about the devastation caused to their family by the drug ice. Picture: Geoff Robson

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MICK had it good.

Three beautiful children, a happy marriage, a new business, the house with the white picket fence.

The comfortable, middle- class existence was smashed last year when Mick shot up the drug ice.

The subsequent stroke has left the once outdoorsy 40-year-old barely able to speak, in need of a walking stick and with no idea what the future holds.

The drug, which he took after visiting a sick relative, caused a brain hemorrhage, which has left him suffering with chronic expressive aphasia, right-sided hemiplegia and epilepsy.

Nicole, the intelligent and articulate wife who gave up a career to look after her husband, just shakes her head.

"What a shitty game of Russian roulette that was," she said.

Sitting in their typical Northern Tasmanian home it's hard to believe it's been shattered by a drug whose horrors are normally associated with the poor and disadvantaged. 

"In the past, unbeknownst to me, Mick had been a recreational user, injecting at numerous times in his life," she said.

"With his grandfather dying, it had triggered a feeling of `I can't get through this, I need a hit'."

He shot up as he began the drive home.

A few hours later a passing motorist discovered him lying in the gravel at Spring Hill rolling around in circles indicating a stroke.

He was rushed to hospital where he underwent emergency brain surgery to stop the bleeding.

He was in a coma for a month before being moved to the Royal Hobart Hospital stroke ward.

The doctors told Nicole to put him in a nursing home and move on - he was done for. If she'd known about the drug use, she might have.

But unaware, she wasn't just going to give up on the father of her young family.

She brought him North, where he spent months in a rehabilitation unit.

Still unaware of the ice equation, Mick finally blurted it out during a massage session.

Nicole said she felt betrayed and ashamed. She'd organised an online auction for Mick, appealing to the public, thinking her husband was just a victim of plain dumb luck. After all, who has a stroke at 39?

"If it wasn't for the kids, if it had been just us two and I found that out, I would have walked clean out," she said.

"And I struggle a lot with the anger. Especially on a really bad day and all hell is breaking loose.

"I've had to stop work, I'm now a full-time carer.

"The kids have sort of missed out on, so far, 15 months of childhood because they've been shoved from pillar to post while we get Mick back up on his feet."

The couple, blessed with a sense of humour, have decided to use it as a positive where they can.

Already Mick is used by the close circle of friends and family who know his story as a living example of why not to do drugs.

Speaking slowly and deliberately Mick tells me to "stay clear of it".

It's a message they hope Mick might be able to one day deliver in schools as he slowly recovers "one step at time".

"He's here to tell a story when statistically he shouldn't be," Nicole said.

Note: Mick and Nicole's names have been changed. 

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