When a stroke strikes…It’s About Time

David’s Story


David Freedman
It all happened so fast. I was getting out of bed, when suddenly my knees buckled underneath me. I fell back and I tried to speak, but I… I couldn’t. Only garbled sounds — not words — came out of my mouth. I couldn’t move my legs. My wife Deborah tried to help me up. I saw by the look on her face that she knew something was terribly wrong.

I could only watch as Deborah grabbed the phone and dialled 9-1-1. My brain ticking away with every second.

Me ticking away with every second.

Deborah, wife
My heart was racing as I drove behind the ambulance. I felt so scared that I didn’t know what was going on with David. I couldn’t bear to think about losing him. My husband of nearly 30 years. Wonderful father to our two beautiful children. And still my very best friend.

I never imagined our time together would be ending so suddenly, too soon…

When I arrived in the Emergency Department at VGH, David was already surrounded by a myriad of medical staff. Within minutes, they completed a CT Scan.

I lost my breath when they told me that David had suffered a stroke.

It didn’t seem right. David was fit and healthy. How could this be happening to him? To us?

“To have a stroke centre where within 20 minutes David was being assessed was, for us, what got us through this.”

– Deborah Freedman

Dr. Thalia Field, MD: Stroke Expert
Vancouver Stroke Program Clinical–Research Fellowship 2014
• Associate Professor, Division of Neurology, UBC
• Neurologist, Postgraduate Program Director and Co-director of Research, Vancouver Stroke Program
• Researching ground-breaking discoveries in stroke prevention and treatment
• Fellowship Program Director training the next generation of stroke neurologists in BC

Dr. Thalia Field
The important thing to know about strokes is that time is crucial. The longer a stroke goes untreated, the higher the risk of physical disability and permanent cognitive impairment.

So when David entered the doors of VGH, a swarm of medical professionals sprung into action immediately, all doing different jobs in parallel to assess and provide treatment as soon as possible.

We administered a drug straight away to dissolve the clot blocking blood flow to David’s brain. We stabilized his condition…but there was still more work to do.

During the hours that followed, we closely monitored David. It was during this time that he started to develop more issues with speech and movement on his right side. I made the call to notify my colleagues to prepare for an emergency stenting procedure.

David’s procedure was a success. He had stabilized and made it through the most dangerous period of time after his symptoms began.

When I woke up at VGH, I couldn’t talk or walk. I had no memory of who my wife or my kids were. That hit me hard.

Over a number of days I started to regain some of my memory. Visits from Deborah and our two wonderful kids — Sydney and Adrian — made me determined to get better.

After I recovered from my surgery, I was enrolled at GF Strong Rehab Centre — a bootcamp for my brain and body.

For hours each day, I worked with a team of occupational, physio and speech therapists. It was agonizing and embarrassing at times, but I was willing to do anything that would help me get better. And my rehab team were there for me, every day, helping me one step and one word at a time.

During my six months of rehab, I went from not being able to say a word to giving a speech at my sister’s wedding. Today, our family is stronger than ever before. The world-class medical teams at VGH and GF Strong have given me back my life. And I am making the most of every day!

David is one of thousands of British Columbians who are hospitalized each year because of a stroke. And that number is increasing due in part to a growing and aging population.

Whether you are brought to VGH or another hospital in BC, you benefit from the Vancouver Stroke Program though the VGH Stroke Pager, where stroke specialists are on-call 24/7 to provide support to physicians across the province.

In the case of stroke, time really is brain. Treatment times have a direct impact on recovery.

The highly specialized, 24-hour vital care provided by the Vancouver Stroke Program at VGH is possible because of philanthropy. Together, we can provide the time for hope.

To ensure the best outcome for stroke patients like David, we need to continue to invest in the best people. People like Dr. Thalia Field.

Your support funds the best care possible, including the recruitment of the next generation of medical leaders, and research to improve and advance clinical practice.