Melbourne Disability Expo ambassador Mike Rolls was carefree and loving life as a fit 18-year-old setting off with mates on a footy trip. He doesn’t remember much after that. Five and a half weeks later, he woke up from a medically induced coma.
Ravaged by meningococcal disease, two fingers, his right leg below the knee, half of his left foot and part of his nose had been amputated. He was in liver and kidney failure and had suffered multiple brain bleeds.
Mike’s chances of survival in the early days were as little as five percent. His family was told to say their goodbyes on more than one occasion. Over the next six months in hospital, he was given the sobering news that it could take years to achieve basic tasks like walking and driving again and that he may never play sport again.
“I want to live, and I wanted to experience all the things that people get to experience over the course of a lifetime,” he told ABC’s Life Matters last year.
Nine years later, Mike was doing the best he could but chronic pain from the residual effects of meningococcal in his right leg meant that he was constantly exhausted and had little appetite. It was after a frank discussion with his doctor that he made the decision to amputate his right leg also.
In his memoir Ditch the Deadweight, Mike talks about how this turned out to be a lifechanging decision. A few short months after surgery, he was fitted with a high-tech prosthetic leg to match his left prosthetic limb and started running again. He got back into sport, swimming, climbing and eventually playing golf for Australia.
Now an author, motivational speaker, and counsellor, Mike shares lessons learned from his near-death experience with people of all ages and abilities. He is an expert in resilience and passionate about helping people stand tall through challenge and change.
Mike is proud to be the 2019 ambassador for the Melbourne Seniors and Disability Expo, which facilitates choice and celebrates taking back the reins of control.
The free My Future, My Choice seniors and disability expo links thousands of seniors and people with disability with hundreds of product and service providers; including leisure, lifestyle and assistive technology options. Attendees are invited to test-drive equipment, gather information about products and services, and compare options.
The program of events includes hands-on workshops, insightful guest speakers, presentations from NDIA and My Aged Care, all-ages entertainment as well as on-stage performances from 40s, 50s and 60s vocal trio The Trebelettes and others. Café and break out areas give attendees space to relax and have a chat with family and friends.
Come along to hear Mike Rolls’s inspirational speech about his journey back to health, which he puts down to a positive outlook, an adaptive mindset and a conscious decision to embrace challenge and change. Mike has a background in the health industry, is a qualified counsellor, a highly skilled communicator and a passionate supporter of amputee charity Limbs 4 Life. He also recently became an official ambassador of Interplast Australia and New Zealand, and Ossur.
Mike will speak at the opening ceremony, 11 am, Friday 22 November, Melbourne Exhibition Centre. Entry is free for the general public.