Pam Spence’s stroke experience

My Stroke Journey

Every year, February is Heart and Stroke month. June is Stroke Awareness month. In our communities, we should promote health education leading to a quality of life that promotes independence in our daily lives

My profession was an Administrative Assistant graduating from Ryerson Polytechnical Institute, 3-yr. program in May 1975, Business Administration. After having business work experience in public education for most of my career, I retired from the retirement industry in August 2018, after many rewarding experiences working with seniors, their families, and, partners in the community. Senior health needs are so important to continue leading a productive lifestyle.

My stroke journey began June 2019, with a series of headaches, leading to a carotid artery disease diagnosis, and subsequently, a diagnosis of A-Fib in the heart with a Stroke experienced in Mid-August. There were no physical warnings, and A-Fib is difficult to diagnose without an incident. The stroke incident involved an efficient and timely response by EMS personnel and Fitness emergency response team at the Chestnut Developments Recreation Complex, Pickering, transporting me to a Stroke Division Hospital, Lakeridge Health, Oshawa. The staff at Lakeridge Hospital were supportive and prepared to meet the ER conditions and aftermath of the stroke. My limitations are minimal compared to the average stroke patient-left hand dominant and arm affected, and I continue to work with an excellent Rehab-team consisting of an occupational therapist, neural physiotherapist and physiatrist, for improving my quality of life toward positive functioning qualities within the community. We need to address the research for women’s health, particularly diagnosis and continuum of care for best stroke care practices. Timing is vital in getting to hospital in a minimal timeframe, and best stroke care practices within a short timeframe are equally important for positive independence within the community.

I was a participant in the Central East Rehab Regional Cardio Program at the Pickering Soccer Dome, in 2019 and 2022, through Centenary Hospital, an equally valued program of education and exercise, vital in stroke and heart recovery with best care practices. In September 2021, a Pacemaker was implanted and in December 2021, I experienced Left Ventricle Dysfunction-Stress Induced Cardiomyopathy, which is Heart Failure. I am currently a member of the Age-Friendly Steering Committee of the City of Pickering, a member of SHN, Scarborough Health Network, Patient Family Advisory Council, a past patient of Lakeridge Health – Oshawa and a Stroke Rehabilitation Healthcare Advocate. Research regarding stroke in women is vital as women may present differently. To quote from recent statistics from The Heart and Stroke Foundation-“In just 3 years, Heart and Stroke has increased from 59% to 76% the number of their funded research projects that include sex and gender-based analysis and reporting-but there is more to be done”.

I will continue to bring educational programs and advocacy topics forward within our community and Province for the best stroke care practices that we can continue to provide so that patients can achieve their objectives for a healthy, functional lifestyle. Quoting Roy T. Bennett, in The Light in the Heart-“Don’t wait for the right moment to start, start and make each moment right.”

Pam Spence
Past Stroke Patient, Lakeridge Health-Oshawa
Alumni Member, Regional Central East Cardio Program-Centenary
Member, Age Friendly Steering Committee, City of Pickering
Member, Stroke Survivor Advocates of Canada-SSAC
Member, Scarborough Health Network-SHN, Patient Family Advisory Council-PFAC
Advocacy Member, Canadian Women’s Heart Health National Alliance, University of Ottawa-Canada
Stroke Rehabilitation Healthcare Advocate

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