A 62-year-old man from Dawson Creek, B.C., who survived a stroke in his washroom by drinking toilet water for seven days, is hoping his story will help others avoid a similar situation.
Steve Adsley, who lives in a condo unit, says he was going about his usual routine June 26 when all of a sudden he fell in his bathroom.
“I laid there, tried to get up. I couldn't get up. I couldn't put pressure on my leg, my arm.”
Adsley says he didn’t know what was happening.
“I couldn't get on all fours because I had no feeling in my arm or my leg, period.”
The left side of his body was paralyzed. Adsley says he screamed for help for hours, but no one heard him.
“Later on that night I figured out my problem was water. I didn't have anything to drink. So I unscrewed the bolts from the toilet, turned it into a little cup and could reach with one arm, just far enough in — and could put a little cup in the water in the bottom of the toilet bowl. So I drank that.”
Three days in, Adsley says he didn’t think he’d survive.
“Even though that’s what I felt, I continued to yell, trying to get help.”
Seven days after Adsley suffered the stroke, neighbour Diane Young heard his screams.
“I was so glad that I actually heard him,” said Young.
Young called 911. In hindsight, she says it was odd that she hadn’t seen or heard from him in days.
“I never heard anything before that morning,” said Young. “I would have felt so terrible if i hadn't checked on him.”
'My kids didn’t know anything had happened'
Adsley was taken to a local hospital, severely dehydrated. Within a few weeks, he’d regained feeling on his left side, and doctors expect him to make a full recovery.
“The worst part was being unable to move because you can't move," he said. "People say, go get your phone, call an ambulance. My phone's laying on my kitchen table 20 feet away — I can't get to it!”
Adsley’s children live in Vancouver and tried desperately to reach their father by phone. When they hadn’t heard from him in a week, they sent a local friend to check on him.
The friend said there was no answer at his door. That’s when daughter Melani Adsley called the local hospital.
“I felt very guilty, not calling him or being there, because I'd been thinking about going up to visit him earlier,” said Adsley choking back tears.
Adsley has since been moved to a Vancouver hospital to continue his recovery. He says he hopes by sharing his story, he can help others.
“It's a message to me, about how I live my life and how I've got to change how I live my life, which I've never considered before. Nobody thinks they're going to have a stroke,” said Adsley.
'Many strokes are preventable'
Gavin Arthur with the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation says many strokes are preventable.
“Unfortunately the risk factors are pretty common: it's poor diet, not enough exercise, high blood pressure is a key one. Perhaps of any, high blood pressure is the biggest risk factor,” he said.
Steve Adsley had risk factors like high blood pressure and smoking.
“I think the key thing with a gentleman in that situation is that strokes can be devastating and they can really disable you. So for someone like him, the key thing is having someone that can check on you regularly,” said Arthur.
The Heart and Stroke Foundation also says it’s important for people to recognize the signs and symptoms of a stroke.
“Things like dizziness, sudden numbness or loss of use of an arm, trouble speaking, blurred vision or a headache, those can all be signs of a stroke,” said Arthur.
Arthur says people can also have transient symptoms that go away in a few minutes.
“People think that was something, a drop in blood pressure and they don't attribute it to being a mini-stroke or a TIA (transient ischemic attack). So if that happens, go to your doctor or call 911 because that's a warning sign that a larger stroke could be coming.”