A local man will soon be setting out on a 60km walk with the goal of raising funds and awareness about the signs of stroke, and about the ongoing research of the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
On Oct. 2nd, Daniel Trudell will begin his trek in Olds at the corner of Hwy. 27 and Hwy. 2A near the Petro Canada station.
On Oct. 4th, he will make his way to Red Deer, with his destination being Gasoline Alley Harley Davidson, arriving at about 2 p.m.
On June 15th, 2013, Trudell, 48, of Torrington suffered a stroke which left him with several physical challenges including being paralyzed in both his left arm and leg.
He was sitting on the couch at his girlfriend’s house while she was in the kitchen making sandwiches, and all of a sudden his left side went numb.
“I knew right away what it was.” His girlfriend called 9-1-1 and the next thing he knew, he was on the floor having slid down as the stroke continued to wield its effects. “It was strange because I wasn’t really scared,” he recalls.
And he held onto that attitude pretty much from the get-go – he had no doubts he would be walking out of the hospital in his motorcycle riding gear in the not-too-distant future. “While I was there, I worked really hard – I really did,” he said. “Everyday that I went into therapy, they’d say ‘Wow, something else has come back’.
“I believe that I was determined.”
And the determination didn’t waver. “I’d put my headphones on and listen to Eye of the Tiger,” he recalls, chuckling.
He worked with therapists and saw steady improvement. “In three weeks I was walking,” he said. But that process was the toughest.
“The walking was the hardest – it was the last thing to come back,” he said, adding the recovery process was also quite an emotional experience. “I was more emotionally angry at myself – I had been told I had high blood pressure but I didn’t go get it checked,” he said. “I didn’t think anything would happen to me.”
Meanwhile, doctors in Calgary located a bleed in his brain right behind his eye which had ultimately affected his left side. Trudell said that of course timing is everything with a stroke – the faster access to treatment, the better.
How well a person recovers depends on many factors including how much the brain was damaged and in what areas and what a person’s general health was like before the stroke.
Trudell said that today, he is about 80% recovered. He still has some issues with his balance, for example. And last November, he suffered a couple of seizures, but thankfully hasn’t had one since. Overall, it’s been a life-changing experience all the way through.
“It’s the hardest thing I’ve had to conquer,” he said, adding he’s also a more spiritual person now as well. He said he’s also learned to adopt a more humble stance towards life.
Seeing how vulnerable we really are, and how fragile our health can be, certainly contributed to that. “It made me realize what’s important – people are.”
That has led to his desire to raise awareness about the signs of stroke, and the research that the Heart and Stroke Foundation is doing. He also wants to encourage people to be more vigilant with their own health. Even through his facebook page to date, many have thanked him for bolstering awareness about taking more responsibility for their well-being.
“I realized I can help, so that’s why I’m doing the walk. I wanted to do something that means something.”
Meanwhile, for The Stroke Stroll, he is aiming to walk about 60km and raise $10,000 – which will be a challenge as he is still recovering, he said. He hopes to complete no less than 20km each day.
According to the Foundation, a stroke is a sudden loss of brain function. It is caused by the interruption of flow of blood to the brain (ischemic stroke) or the rupture of blood vessels in the brain (hemorrhagic stroke).
The interruption of blood flow or the rupture of vessels causes brain cells (neurons) in the affected area to die.
A stroke can impact any number of areas including one’s ability to move, see, remember, speak, reason and read and write. Risk factors run the gamut from high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, being overweight, diabetes, excessive alcohol consumption, physical inactivity, smoking and stress. Others include age, gender and family history.
Meanwhile, another fundraiser – a benefit concert – is set for Sept. 26th at The Vat to support the Heart and Stroke Foundation as well.
The other goal of The Stroke Stroll is of course to raise funds for the Foundation. Any support is welcomed. “Supporters wishing to join me on my walk are more than welcome.”
For more information, check out The Heart & ‘Stroke Stroll’ To Success 2014 on facebook or call Karen Jackman, area manager of the Heart and Stroke Foundation at the Red Deer office.