Above his heart Daniel Trudell has a new tattoo. It’s the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s icon — a combination of a torch, maple leaf and heart.
Trudell, 48, who resides in Torrington, is a stroke survivor with a message for everyone: “Don’t do what I did.”
What he did was ignore warnings from his body that things weren’t right, and whatever is happening, don’t do the common sense thing and go to the doctor.
“I was so in denial.”
Now he says: “Don’t put it off. Don’t turn your back to it.”
“Go to your doctor. Get your physicals.”
Trudell is planning “The Stroke Stroll” next month to raise awareness and funds for the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
The day Trudell had his stroke, June 15, 2013, he had been out riding his Harley-Davidson motorcycle with his then girlfriend. It was a beautiful day, and they toured around Central Alberta before deciding to stop in Cochrane at his girlfriend’s house for a bite to eat.
Five minutes after he had parked his bike, as he sat on the couch, he started to feel funny on his left side.
Trudell, who had been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes a year earlier, realized he was having a stroke and told his girlfriend to call 911. He was soon whisked off to Foothills Hospital in Calgary.
Trudell had suffered what he describes as a brain bleed behind his right eye. The stroke did not affect his cognitive abilities but it did paralyze his left arm and leg.
When he arrived at Foothills he was still in his motorcycle riding gear.
“I told everyone there, nurses and doctors, that I’m walking out of here in my riding gear and I’m getting on my bike.”
“They said, ‘Yes you will.’ They were totally positive.”
Trudell, a carpenter, originally from the Lower Mainland in B.C., came to Alberta in 2009 to be closer to his mother. His mother is now in her third battle with cancer. His parents of other family members own the Pizza ‘N’ More eh! sandwich shop in Torrington.
As Trudell faced his own condition in hospital, he realized it was going to be a lot of work. “I worked really, really hard through my therapy with the therapists.”
“It was a life changer for me … I saw people pass away (in hospital) … I called it the sheet ward. I’m not getting sheeted outta here.”
“I was literally working out every second I could.”
Accompanying him on his recovery was the song Eye of the Tiger. The song, which he listened to on his headphones, was the huge 1982 hit from the American band Survivor. It was the theme song for the movie Rocky III, and as one can imagine, it’s inspiring. Imagine Sylvester Stallone getting ready for the big fight.
As it turned out, Trudell’s progress was rocket-like. “I was walking in three weeks … I was going to leave hospital in four weeks,” but doctors advised him not too. He did leave after seven weeks, something he said doctors told him was rare.
The day he was discharged from hospital, wearing his riding gear, he got on his motorcycle and drove it around the hospital just to see if he still could.
“I wasn’t supposed to but I wanted to prove it to myself. I rode it around the block … I couldn’t ride it anymore.” He got off it and parked it at that point. Since then he has re-qualified to drive.
Trudell has had to give up his carpentry business and is looking at a career change. He is currently on government assistance.
Along with a team of supporters, he is going to do a three-day “Stroke Stroll”, walking between Olds and Red Deer along Hwy 2A. He starts from Olds on Oct. 2 at the corner of Hwy 27 and 2A, near the Petro Canada station. He hopes to travel at least 20 km a day. He intends to arrive at his final destination, Gasoline Harley-Davidson, at approximately 2 p.m. on Oct. 4, travelling a total of about 60 km. He decided to walk because a lot of people already do motorcycle fundraisers and walking is a challenge for him. “For me, one kilometre is like five.” He tried out running, but has come to realize “Oh wait, my brain does not know how to make my left side run. A friend of mine said, ‘Don’t do that.’’’ He’s taken the advice.
Anyone who wants to join him on the walk is welcome.
Those who want go make a contribution to the Heart and Stroke Foundation can send it in care of Karen Jackman, area manager in Red Deer for the foundation. Trudell asks that people include a note that the donations are in support of his walk. The local foundation office address is 202 – 5913 50th Ave. Red Deer, Alberta, T4N 4C4.
Trudell can be contacted at 403-438-0569.