“It Happened So Fast”: A Stroke Patient’s Journey of Survival and Recovery

Steve Pudsey of Burlington was driving in August of 2015 when he began to experience difficulty controlling the vehicle.

Heather and Steve Pudsey

Heather and Steve Pudsey

“I suddenly lost vision in one eye,” Steve recalls. “I knew I had to take my foot off the gas. Then I don’t remember much.”

From the back seat, Steve’s wife Heather could tell that something was wrong when the truck started swerving. “I steered the truck to the side of the road, where I called 911,” she explains.

Steve was rushed to the local hospital, where it was discovered that he had suffered a stroke. When clot-busting medication did not work, he was transferred to Hamilton General Hospital.

Dr. Brian van Adel oversaw Steve’s care, which involved a minimally invasive thrombectomy using a new Neuro-interventional System that was made possible by a gift from the Marta and Owen Boris Foundation. On hand for the case were stroke Fellows Adrian Fawcett and Gregory Jacquin, who were also funded through the gift.

“Steve’s stroke was caused by an injury to the left internal carotid artery in his neck that resulted in a clot migrating to his brain. Without the endovascular treatment he received, Steve would have required a life-saving decompressive hemicraniectomy because his brain was so swollen and at 53, the stroke would have left Steve mute, paralyzed and living in a nursing home.”
– Dr. Brian van Adel

The procedure involved making a small incision at the groin, allowing the team to reach the damaged artery and retrieve the clot through the blood vessel.

Steve stayed at The General for a week, and then he was transferred to his local hospital for another week-long stay before returning home. Today, Steve has good mobility and he continues therapy to improve his speech and memory, which were affected by aphasia.

“Without donor support,” says Heather, “the upgrading of equipment wouldn’t be possible to help make these types of surgeries possible.” Without this treatment, the effect of Steve’s stroke would have been devastating.