Lindsay’s Story:

How immediate access to our hospitals and a CT scanner prevented an imminent stroke

Grateful patient Lindsay Gaudette

People on the Island look out for one another. Through my work with Peninsula Co-op, I see that often. I’ve witnessed the community come together to support special causes, including our local hospitals. I was very aware of the role donors play in providing leading-edge healthcare equipment, and when I needed access to advanced imaging tools at Victoria General Hospital (VGH) myself, it felt like a full circle moment.

Ahead of the August long weekend in 2022, I felt a kink in my neck while painting the ceiling of my condo. While I didn’t think anything of it at the time, I would later learn that a very small artery at the back of my neck had torn, which is called a vertebral artery tear. It wasn’t painful, more uncomfortable, to the point that I went to see a registered massage therapist. Then, on the holiday Monday, I fell.

I remember feeling uneasy, as though something was wrong. I knew my phone was downstairs, so step-by-literal-step, I slid down them and called a friend with a background in healthcare, curious if the massage may have triggered vertigo. Concerned, she felt she should come check on me. As I waited, I tried to get up and walk, but couldn’t find my balance. Even while sitting on the couch, I kept falling to my left. I won’t forget the look on her face when she arrived and said, “we are going to the hospital. Right now.”

When we arrived at VGH, I was sent for a CT scan without delay. While still in the room, several people suddenly rushed in and started hooking devices up to my arms. Dr. Jocelyn Andruko shared that the CT scan showed there was a blood clot in my brain. She said stroke neurologist, Dr. Janka Hegedus, was enroute from Royal Jubilee Hospital, but there wasn’t time to wait for her to administer a clot busting medication.

That’s when I realized the severity of my situation. With the ability to look at imaging remotely, Dr. Hegedus’ fear was that if the clot moved or didn’t break down immediately, it could cause a stroke. Because of the location and size of the clot, it would be difficult to operate, so this medication was the best path forward.

Thankfully, the medication worked very quickly. By that evening, incredibly, I was walking a little without assistance. A follow up CT scan the next day showed my medical team the clot was gone. Two days later, I was released from hospital.

After, Dr. Hegedus shared that as the blood was escaping the small tear in the artery, it started to collect and form a clot, which put pressure on the part of my brain that impacts balance. In some ways, I’m extremely lucky, because if I hadn’t fallen over, I may not have realized there was anything wrong, until it was too late.

I know without my medical team and quick access to the CT scanner, my life could be very different.

I’m so grateful to my friend who got me to the hospital immediately, and for the quick and skilled actions of my care team. I’m grateful that I work for an organization that supports the Victoria Hospitals Foundation. And I’m truly thankful that other donors, on Vancouver Island and beyond, have done the same, ensuring the best of care and technology are there when it’s needed most.