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LETTER: Daughter spreads message of heart and stroke awareness

'My dad's family had no history of heart disease nor strokes. He was a man who worked five days a week and was fine until one day he dropped'
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Kailie Doncaster submitted this letter about her father and the important message of Heart and Stroke education.

I’ve been thinking if I should reach out, or if it’s a lost cause. 

June is Heart and Stroke Awareness month. The most education we receive of the deadly signs and information on how to save someone’s life is through Hoops for Heart in elementary school, which as time fades you lose the knowledge. 

Two years ago I was a twenty-two year old living in my new home and recently pregnant. 

My dad had been a concern for a while as for years he showed warning signs of heart and stroke. 

On the morning of Sept. 17 2020, I received a call from my dad, which for me was unusual because we always texted throughout the day.

When I picked up I couldn't make out a word of what he was saying. I rushed to his home. I found him 12 minutes after this phone call, on the ground. 

I immediately called 9-1-1. By the time we got to the hospital he was rushed into the ICU and we learned he had a severe hemorrhagic stroke in his brain stem. I immediately felt responsible for the time he was waiting on the ground for care. Two years have passed since. He remains in hospital. 

He received the tough news that he can never go home and requires too much care to live in home care facilities or nursing homes. He cannot eat anymore, he cannot drink (due to his stroke taking away his ability to swallow), he requires a trach in his throat to clear out any saliva so he doesn’t suffocate. He lost complete function of the left half of his body. 

On top of his crippled body, his stroke also made him very vulnerable to pneumonia and internal bleeds. He’s received five blood transfusions, numerous antibiotics, and constant transfers to the ICU to stay alive.

I am now a 24 year old with a toddler at home and another baby on the way and I'm my father’s caregiver. It has rocked my world upside down. 

I can’t help but to stress that Heart and Stroke Awareness month is recognized. 

For those who have died, for those who have suffered after their episode and for the families like myself who had little to no resources to learn how to cope. 

This can happen to anyone. My dad's family had no history of heart disease nor strokes. He was a man who worked five days a week and was fine until one day he dropped. 

My hope is if trusted information and resources are spread, lives can be saved.