Patient Story: Harry and Bev
Harry and Bev have lived in Peterborough County for almost 30 years. They moved to the area to raise their two daughters and welcomed their first grandchild a few years ago.
Harry enjoyed a successful career in the telecommunications field and was a volunteer firefighter for over 20 years. On November 14, 2008, Harry and a telecommunications colleague were fixing a residential phone line at the side of a road when he got a headache he describes now as the “worst pain you could imagine”.
From what he knew from the media on the signs of a stroke and with his experience with the local fire department, Harry guessed he was having a stroke and told his colleague to call 911. He told his colleague his age, doctor’s name and that he wasn’t on any medications. But this would be the last thing he remembered doing for the next three weeks. Harry had suffered a ruptured cerebral aneurysm in the anterior communicating artery.
Harry was hospitalized for many weeks where he underwent a coil procedure to block the blood flow to the aneurysm. His wife Bev stayed by his side every day. She helped feed him, care for him and completed paperwork and benefits forms with the help of the hospital staff. When Harry was discharged home he was able to walk, talk, drive, and dress himself. He had some left side weakness but eventually that improved and so he felt he didn’t need anything. However, he was having a hard time accepting “the old Harry was gone”. He couldn’t focus or organize tasks, and had memory issues. As a result he was unable to work.
Eventually he joined some programs at the Four Counties Brain Injury Association where the staff then connected him with the Central East Local Health Integration Network (Central East LHIN). After an in-home assessment for Home and Community Care services with the Central East LHIN, Harry began receiving regular visits from an occupational therapist, a speech language pathologist, and a social worker. While working with the speech language pathologist it was discovered Harry had dysphasia and weakness in the left side of his throat that was causing him to choke while he ate and he couldn’t remember to swallow.
“I realized that I was not as good as I thought I was. I had a lot of fatigue, and would ruminate and become overwhelmed with simple tasks,” explained Harry. “But with the team’s persistence and guidance I got better and learned coping strategies.”
Now, Harry and Bev live full and busy lives. They attend Life After Stroke Peterborough, a peer support group for stroke survivors and their family, friends and caregivers. They are members of the Active Living Adaptive Golf League which helps people get into golfing after injury or disability took them away from playing sports. Harry enjoys a round of golf with his peers while Bev helps drive the carts and set up the tees for other golfers who may not be able to due to physical limitations. In addition, they are members of the Royal Canadian Legion and are Heart and Stroke volunteers. If they aren’t busy out in the community, Harry and Bev spend time working on their new house and one acre of land they moved to recently.
“Everything is still a bit of a challenge, but I credit the team of Central East LHIN professionals for helping me and my family get on the right track to our new normal.”
Use FAST To Remember The Warning Signs Of A Stroke
- FACE Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
- ARMS Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
- SPEECH Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?
- TIME If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.
For more information on the Central East LHIN Vascular Strategic Aim please visit here.