Grateful Patient: Susan Malcolm, Integrated Stoke/RehabilitationSusan Malcolm

Having access to specially-trained medical staff and a determination to reclaim one’s health are important ingredients to recover from the potentially life-altering effects of a stroke.

Susan Malcolm, a resident of Port Rowan in Norfolk County, wasn’t at risk for a stroke. In fact, she had always been physically active – she had trained as a physical education teacher, kept active and although she had high blood pressure, it was being managed.

So when she was at a yoga class in April 2015, and suddenly dropped to the floor, she suggested the instructors call her husband, not 911. She didn’t want to be a bother, and didn’t think it was anything as serious as a stroke.

“I just felt like I was clumsy,” said Susan.

Susan’s husband, Jim, picked her up and took her to their local emergency room and by then, the weakness she had experienced had corrected itself. She explained to doctors what had happened and they started testing for signs that she’d had a stroke. She was sent by ambulance to The Brantford General Hospital when symptoms re-appeared to be put into the care of the District Stroke Centre, serving Brant, Haldimand and Norfolk areas.

“Once I got to the stroke unit, it was wonderful,” said Susan, explaining she received further testing to find out exactly what impact her stroke had had on her brain and body.

“They tested everything that could possibly be tested,” she said. “They were looking for reasons why I would have had this stroke to prevent another.”

The next morning, Susan couldn’t move anything on the left side of her body.

“Nothing would work,” she said. It is not unusual in cases of stroke for the effects to be somewhat delayed.  Susan admits she was a little panicked by the paralysis, but she was reassured by the staff on the stroke unit.

“The staff are so positive.”

They started her rehabilitation right away, where she was given small tasks to complete that would help retrain her brain to work with her limbs.

On her first day, she was encouraged to attempt walking. It took a team of four rehab therapists, but they got her up to make her first attempt. 

“I think it helped that I had trained as a phys-ed teacher,” said Susan. “So when they said, ‘Do this,’ I knew how to isolate the muscles.”

Susan was determined and willing to keep working on her own recovery. She was in therapy programs every day, twice a day, working with her therapy team, toward her goal to regain as much as she could, as quickly as possible.

“I don’t know where the determination came from, to tell you the truth, but it came at the right time.”

“The therapists come up with unbelievable things to try to engage your muscles. You have no idea how many muscles are required to move a leg or reach a plate off a shelf,” said Susan.

Susan said the therapy was difficult to master at first.

“I don’t know that anyone can really appreciate it who hasn’t been through it,” said Susan. “But I wanted my life back.”

After her month-long stay at The Brantford General site, Susan was released with a two-month-long schedule of out-patient therapy twice a week.

At this point, I’m functional, but not perfect yet,” she said.

Susan is grateful for not only the professional and effective care she received through the Brant Community Healthcare System, but also the people she met along the way. The staff in all the departments she came into contact with made her feel well cared for and comfortable.

“You do get to be really pretty close to some of them,” she said. “I’m grateful for all they did for me.”

The equipment supported by donor dollars isn’t all ‘nice to have’—it is critical, much-needed medical equipment required to perform daily diagnostics and care for patients.

As Susan has learned first-hand, when crisis or illness impacts you or a loved one, the Brant Community Healthcare System is here to offer you exceptional healthcare in your time of need. 

Your involvement, through a donation of any size, will allow the BCHS Foundation to purchase patient equipment not funded by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, provide essential resources to
maintain the exceptional level of compassionate patient care, and invest in new and innovative technology.

To make a donation, click here or call 519-751-5510.

This holiday season, give a gift that could save a life and be a part of the Brant Community Healthcare System Foundation’s 12 Days of Giving Campaign.

Photo above: Susan Malcolm & Susan Brandon, Physiotherapist