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From Patient to Volunteer: Brent's Story

June 12, 2017

In 2016 Brent, 64, spent a typical Sunday playing golf and visiting friends. He was about to pop dinner into the oven when he noticed he could only see the minutes but not the hour on the stove's digital clock. He had a slight headache but attributed it to the changing weather.

When he awoke the next morning Brent knew something was definitely wrong when he still could not see the left side of things, still had a headache, and had extreme sensitivity to bright light. His wife rushed him to HPHA – Stratford General Hospital (SGH). “I was whisked right into triage, had a CT scan, and the doctor told me I'd had an ischemic stroke,” Brent recalls.

Brent spent the next six weeks in the Integrated Stroke Unit which provides acute and rehabilitative care. He did not have the stereotypical paralysis on one side many associate with stroke, but rather he had less visible deficits. Most concerning to him were his short-term memory loss, and the change in his ability to control his emotions. “I was always a sensitive person, but after my stroke tears came much more easily,” he explains.

Brent spent one day at the Regional Stroke Centre at London Health Sciences Centre – University Hospital for a procedure to put a stent in his right carotid artery to increase blood flow.

During his rehabilitation, Brent found occupational therapy particularly challenging. “As a former production supervisor, I felt so frustrated when I couldn't even get the coloured pegs to fit into the grid,” Brent recalls. “There were a lot of things I had to learn to do all over again, but I drew strength from Gordie Howe's saying, “Don't complain about the cards dealt to you, just play them.”

An avid sportsman, once discharged Brent yearned to return to his long-distance bike riding and golfing. The Huron Perth Community Stroke Rehab Team (CSRT) helped him identify ways to safely resume his activities, such as adding extra mirrors to his bike to compensate for his vision loss. The CSRT also helped him with his medications, and provided strategies to help him focus and remember things.

“Brent was supported throughout his care journey by the strong stroke system now in place throughout the South West LHIN,” says Bonnie Thompson, Manager, Huron Perth District Stroke Centre.

“I couldn’t have asked for better care,” says Brent.

Never one to sit still, he is attending the Moving Forward with Stroke support group, and giving back by volunteering at HPHA - SGH on the stroke unit. “When he was a patient here Brent was always so positive—we are delighted to have him back to help support and motivate stroke patients,” says Occupational Therapist Nabiha Sharif.

Brent in orange vest, with members of the Stroke Team!