Wife's quick thinking stroke of luck
Getting help fast meant Inglewood man Cameron Gillespie, 53, has no lasting disability following a stroke last November.
This week is Stroke Awareness Week and FAST, an acronym to help remember the sudden signs of stroke, is the key message of the week.
And getting help quickly was just what Gillespie's wife Julie did when he started becoming vague and unwell that Monday morning.
The first sign something wasn't right was when he had trouble putting his belt through the loops on his shorts, he said.
"I went to the kitchen to do the lunches and felt completely lost. I didn't know what I was doing."
His wife asked him if he was all right and he said he was, except he felt lost and confused.
And when she asked him to help her make the bed, he didn't know what she was talking about.
"She was asking questions and I was answering, but the answers were getting slower."
So she called an ambulance.
The officers asked more questions, as did Emergency Department staff when he got to Taranaki Base Hospital.
"We'd been to Auckland for the weekend, but I kept on saying Tauranga. They bombarded me with questions which I couldn't answer. I couldn't get the answers out. I had my eldest son with me. I knew who it was, but couldn't say his name. They asked me about my other sons and I didn't know who they were."
However, he didn't think there was much wrong with him, so was shocked when he was moved to get a CT scan and saw a nurse running along beside him with a resus kit, he said. "I know what that is and I'm thinking ‘holy s... what's she got that for?'."
Then when he arrived at ICU, he really "freaked out".
Gillespie was in hospital for a week. Apart from some speech therapy, he didn't need any rehab and now has no ill effects from his stroke.
Part of the reason for his recovery was thrombolysis, which is a "clot busting treatment" that is administered through a vein, says clinical lead for stroke at Taranaki Base Hospital, Dr Bhavesh Lallu.
"The treatment breaks down the clot." Thrombolysis has only been available in Taranaki since July.
"It makes a big difference. I can't tell you whether Cam would have had the same outcome if we hadn't had the treatment, but it definitely reduces disability with a stroke."
Stroke is the third biggest killer in the world, after cancer and heart disease, but it is the leading cause of disability.
"Cam was very fortunate his wife recognised something was amiss and called an ambulance."
Lallu said this was why the FAST message was being promoted during stroke awareness week to help people recognise early the symptoms of stroke.
Only about one in 10 people can recognise the symptoms of a stroke.
Face – is one side drooping?
Arms – raise both arms, is one side weak?
Speech – are words jumbled?
Time – act fast and call 111.
Taranaki Daily News