Doug Arnold’s Story:

Skilled physicians and access to imaging technology proved vital during a serious stroke

Last June, when I suffered a stroke at the age of 69, I believe that technology, skill, access to the care we have here—plus some luck—combined in a life-changing manner for me.

I was at a marina working on my new boat and had just sat down for lunch; all morning I had been climbing up and down ladders, sometimes from heights of four to six meters from the deck of the boat. When I took a call from a friend, I found I couldn’t translate my thoughts into words, and my speech was garbled: she recognized I was having a stroke. My friend hung up on me to call 911. Within minutes, I had fallen to the deck, unable to move or feel the entire right side of my body.

Paramedics brought me to Victoria General Hospital, the centre for neurology excellence in our region. Almost immediately after arriving, I was sent for a CT scan, confirming I was suffering a stroke. That’s when I met skilled stroke neurologist, Dr. Andrew Lockey.

The CT images showed Dr. Lockey I had a blocked blood vessel in my brain. In record time, he and his team treated the blockage and my stroke through an angiogram and embolectomy—thanks to their incredible skill, the entire clot was removed on the first pass. I remember the mood in the room shifting from intense concentration to celebration. Remarkably, within minutes of the procedure, I was moving my right arm and speaking clearly.

Less than a month after suffering the stroke, I took my new boat out on the water for Canada Day. Four months later, I was on a month-long scuba diving and photography trip in Indonesia. I later learned that less than five per cent of people walk away with zero stroke deficits after suffering the same type of stroke as I did. I am truly lucky that time was on my side, and I had access to VGH and Dr. Lockey.

Lucky I am, too, to know that there are supporters of the Victoria Hospitals Foundation that play a life-changing role in our community. Without a CT scanner and the skills of my medical team, I know my outcome would have been much different.