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Patient Story

Ken’s Story

"[The nurses] knew what I was capable of before I did."

Musician and previous Whitby resident, Ken McCaw, is a driving force behind stroke awareness efforts in Ontario. After receiving care at Lakeridge Health, Ken continues to be an inspiration to other stroke patients in the Durham Region and beyond.

Eight years ago, Ken woke up knowing something was wrong. "I couldn't stand up straight, I felt dizzy then and my whole right side had shut down - head to toe," recalls Ken. He called 9-1-1 but when he tried to speak, his speech slurred.

By the time the paramedics arrived, the feeling would return to Ken's right side, only to disappear again at the hospital. This would happen three times in the course of just a few hours. At only 47 years of age, Ken, husband, and father of three, had become a stroke patient.

Once Ken arrived at the hospital, he was rushed through the Emergency Room and immediately spoke with a doctor about tPA, a powerful clot-busting drug, that if given four and half hours of the onset of stroke symptoms, can decrease the devastating effects of stroke.

The team at Lakeridge Health worked quickly to determine if Ken was a candidate for tPA and our Hospital’s pharmacy was on hand to ensure the drug was delivered within the critical time period.

Ken's journey was not over. His blood pressure climbed to a dangerous high and attempts to lower it nearly killed him. "I remember hearing the code blue," remembers Ken, "and hearing my room number." He also remembers slipping in and out of consciousness. 

All in all, Ken would call Lakeridge Health home for two months where the staff became his friends, and his champions.

"The nurses were really valuable in motivating me to get up, to get stuff done. They knew what I was capable of before I did."

For Ken, the experience of stroke and surviving has left him feeling better than he has in his whole life. Ken credits the nurses and staff at Lakeridge Health for getting him the right medication to combat his stroke and for motivating him through his recovery.

An avid guitarist, Ken appreciates even the smallest improvements to his health. Despite loss of function in his right-side, Ken strives to hon his musical talents. In November 2017, he released his first album featuring original music, performed one-handed. Today, Ken is writing music for his next album and looking to collaborate with others.

Outside of his regular working life Ken volunteers with various organizations, including previously volunteering with Lakeridge Health's Integrated Stroke Unit. Today, he performs to other stroke patients to help support others who have undergone similar experiences.

"Offering advice and sharing my experience of recovery fills an important role in inspiring hope and empowerment for the patients and family members I encounter," says Ken. "It's incredibly rewarding, for both me and the staff - we get to see the end of the story.  And it's a good one!"