Bunbury author Stephen Trigwell creates message of love and hope from a truly terrifying experience

Jacinta CantatoreSouth Western Times
Stephen Trigwell
Camera IconStephen Trigwell Credit: Jacinta Cantatore

A former Donnybrook orchardist and rock band guitarist who retired to Bunbury has managed to turn a terrifying experience into a book that shares a true South West love story that is having international success.

The book, 105 Steps, started as a way of coping with the intense emotions Stephen Trigwell experienced when his wife Glenys, or “Glen” as he calls her, suffered a severe stroke.

Last year — within the space of an hour — life as they knew it changed forever.

One Friday afternoon last March, Glenys felt a sudden, excruciating headache come on.

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That was at 5pm.

By 6pm, she was unconscious in the emergency department of Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, with Stephen left distraught and helpless at her bedside.

“One minute everything is going well, the next minute your whole life changes,” he said.

Early the next morning, surgeons performed lifesaving brain surgery to remove the embolism that caused her stroke.

During those dark moments Stephen thought he was going to lose his wife of four decades, who had been his partner since they were in their teens.

“There was a time when we thought she wasn’t going to make it,” he said.

“What would I do without her?

“My whole life with her flashed before my eyes.”

He wrote a diary account from Glen’s bedside in Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, then Fiona Stanley, then Bunbury Regional Hospital.

Glen lost all feeling and movement on the left side of her body, losing the ability to walk.

Stephen documented each new surgery, setback and health scare, as well as the flood of memories these events triggered, all the while grappling with the fear of losing Glen.

He found himself writing about his childhood in Harvey, Brunswick and Donnybrook as a cop’s son, then as an orchardist, world travels as backpacker, then as guitarist in South West bands the Propellors, Serious Jelly, Fuzzyiguana, and Stickfish.

He recalled first meeting Glen in high school in Bunbury — the Leonora-born Goldfields girl that would later become his golden girl.

In those six weeks of waiting for Glen to wake up, writing his thoughts down kept him sane.

“I never intended to write a book,” Stephen said.

“It started off as a diary, then as a way of processing the emotions I was feeling.”

After eight months, Glen had begun to recover some movement and vision, and was finally back home, which the duo modified for wheelchair access with ramps and a lift.

She can now move her left leg again and her memory and speech are intact.

Assured the worst was over for now, Stephen showed the diary to a friend, who encouraged him to share this story with others.

With Glen’s encouragement, he decided to share the story with the hundreds of friends and families who had supported the couple, printing off copies as a way of saying thank you to these people.

“You wouldn’t believe how many people were along with us on our journey,” Stephen said.

“We are really grateful for all that we’ve got.”

When these people wanted to share copies with the family overseas, postage was too expensive, so Stephen put 105 Steps on Amazon.com where it hit No.1 across multiple genres.

But for Stephen, the most important thing is that Glen is recovering.

“We reckon we’re a perfect team but I only did 50 per cent of the stuff,” he said.

“She’s been my greatest fan all my life.”

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