A Stroke Brought Them Together

Jeff and Jennifer Wolfenden of Hamilton were surprised to learn how much they had in common.

Patients Jeff and Jennifer Wolfenden

Jeff and Jennifer Wolfenden

They met for the first time at a stroke survivors’ support group in 2010, which marked the beginning of their ongoing journey together.

“We’d both suffered a heart attack in our thirties and a stroke in our forties,” explains Jennifer. “We are both here today telling our stories because of the amazing care we received at Hamilton Health Sciences.”

Jeff’s journey

In 2003, Jeff was 36 years old when he began to experience severe shortness of breath and pressure in his chest. An angiogram revealed that he had suffered a heart attack. Luckily no surgery was required and he recovered quickly.

“It was also found that I had a blood disorder called Factor V Leiden, which causes an increase in blood clotting,” says Jeff. “That probably contributed to my stroke in 2008. It’s thanks to the teams at The General that I relearned how to swallow, walk and use my arm after my stroke. Physiotherapy and medication helped me get back on my feet.”

Jennifer at The General

In 2006, when Jennifer was 37 years old, she began to experience severe chest pains. A visit to The General revealed that Jennifer had suffered a heart attack. She underwent an angioplasty, which is a procedure to widen obstructed blood vessels.

“At first I thought the doctor was mistaken when he said that I’d had a stroke.”
– Jennifer Wolfenden

“I found myself back at The General in 2010 after I began to feel weak on the left side of my body, my vision became blurred and I couldn’t speak coherently,” Jennifer recalls. “At first I thought the doctor was mistaken when he said that I’d had a stroke. I was treated with clot-busting medication and I worked extensively with a physiotherapist, an occupational therapist, and a speech-language pathologist.”

A new life together

Today, Jeff and Jennifer are doing well. Both of them have resumed the physically active lifestyles they enjoyed previously.

“We’re able to travel, take rigorous hikes and ride Jeff’s motorcycle,” says Jennifer, who married Jeff in 2013. “We’re grateful for the life we have together and we’re excited about what the future holds.”

Jeff and Jennifer were proud to share their story as Strides For The General Patient Ambassadors. The eighth annual fundraiser in September 2018 raised funds to support enhanced patient care at Hamilton General Hospital and the Regional Rehabilitation Centre.