Overcoming fear to get help for stroke

When he finally called an ambulance, Ed knew he had done the right thing

On Sunday, April 19 , Ed Wheten felt “kind of weird.” He went to bed, not thinking much of it. But when he got up the next morning, he found he was banging into walls on his way to the living room of his Halifax apartment. His balance was off and his right leg and arm were weaker than normal.

“I sat down on the couch for probably six or seven hours,” recalls Ed, who is 61. 

He thought he should call an ambulance. But as someone with mobility issues, Ed was afraid he would fall trying to go down the stairs of his home. And there was another reason he resisted calling 9-1-1: the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Everybody has apprehension about COVID-19, about getting sick,” Ed explained. “I live with my brother, who’s 77, and I’m diabetic. So I did have some concern about catching it through the hospital.”

When Ed realized he could no longer get up off the couch or lift his right arm, he called his brother downstairs, then called an ambulance.

If I had known the signs of stroke, I would have gone to the hospital a lot sooner. 

Ed Wheten Stroke survivor


“My brother was kind of freaked out,” Ed said. “He thought I should have called earlier, and I knew I should have too.”

Safe at hospital

Ed’s fear of catching COVID-19 changed once he got to the hospital. He realized it was a “better spot to be,” especially when they told him he’d had a stroke.

“I didn’t recognize the symptoms at all,” Ed said. Because of nerve damage from diabetes, Ed often has problems lifting his legs and using his hands, and didn’t know at first that what he was experiencing was different. However, once he started rehabilitation and began speaking to other stroke survivors, he realized many of them had experienced similar things.

Had he recognized the signs of stroke, Ed says, “I would have gone a lot sooner.”

Now, he wants others not to worry about catching COVID-19 at the hospital. The measures in place to protect and care for patients made Ed feel safe. With the help of his medical team, Ed recovered, lost 20 lbs and even quit smoking!

After 25 days in hospital, Ed is home, and other than some lingering weakness in his right arm, he is doing well. “They told me at the hospital that I was pretty lucky,” he said. Ed now has a message for anyone experiencing stroke symptoms: “Go get it checked out as soon as possible!”

Related information