A MAN whose life was dramatically changed following a stroke has called on a treatment to be made available across the country.
Robert Baldock suffered a stroke last March and was one of just 13 people across Scotland who received a thrombectomy last year.
The 53-year-old, from Dirleton, told the Courier his family were told to “prepare for the worst” after his diagnosis 18 months ago.
Thrombectomy is a highly specialised procedure which involves physically removing the clot that caused the stroke and opening up the blocked artery, and is most effective if done in the first few hours after a stroke.
The procedure can help prevent significant disability from a severe stroke.
Robert said: “My only option was a thrombectomy.
“Thankfully, I was able to have the thrombectomy that saved my life. For me, there was no other alternative.
“I am shocked to hear that I was one of only 13 people who received a thrombectomy in Scotland in 2017 when 600 people that year could have been eligible for the same treatment that I had.
“Recovery has been slow and I have been left with severe communication difficulties. I spent 10 weeks in hospital and a further five months in rehabilitation.
“Looking back, my scariest moment was waiting to find out if I was going to be able to receive a lifesaving thrombectomy and the stark possibility of not surviving if not.
“I now live with acute dysphasia – I know what I want to say but have difficulty at times finding the words – and severe verbal dyspraxia – when the words are there but I have difficulty motor planning to create the appropriate sounds.
“All of this makes communicating really difficult. Often it’s easier for me to draw or write a reply.
“Stroke fatigue has also impacted hugely on my life and those around me have had to appreciate this and allow me time to rest.”
On the day he suffered a stroke, Robert had been in Edinburgh meeting friends and visiting galleries.
Later that evening, the former digital solutions designer began to experience a headache.
He said the pain got worse until by 9pm he felt he had “no control over my body”.
He added: “I couldn’t move my arm or cry out.
“I went to hospital, had tests which came back negative and it was presumed I had suffered a TIA [transient ischaemic attack, often referred to as a mini stroke as the effects only last up to 24 hours].
“I was sent home and told to call the hospital on Monday to arrange a scan. I didn’t get the chance.
“At 10.30am on Sunday morning I suffered and survived a serious ischaemic stroke.
“All I can remember of that morning is the ambulance crew trying to manoeuvre me down the narrow stairs of the cottage with great difficulty. I couldn’t move or speak.
“A scan revealed a large clot had caused my stroke.
“Normally you would have a clot-busting drug to dissolve the clot and restore blood flow to the brain. However, I was told this treatment wasn’t going to be effective for me.
“My family and friends who were with me were told to prepare for the worst. Things didn’t look good at all.”
Now, Robert has teamed up with Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland’s (CHSS) call to give stroke patients across Scotland access to thrombectomy.
Earlier this week, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed it would be next spring before any plan for a thrombectomy service in Scotland was forthcoming.