Counting her lucky stars after stroke treatment
Detective Superintendent, Christine Baulderstone says she owes her life to the advancements of medical research.
On a cold winter morning in June 2013, Christine suffered a life-threatening stroke. Thanks to the fast thinking of those involved in getting her to the Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH) and a successful response to treatment, Christine walked out of hospital three days later, resumed work on a part time basis, had six weeks of rehabilitation and was promoted six months later.
Christine and her partner Astrid are counting their lucky stars that they were able to get to the RAH so quickly and that Christine responded rapidly to treatment.
“I’d gone to take one of our dogs for a walk and when I got downstairs I felt dizzy – I braced myself on the kitchen bench, but then I went down onto the ground,” Christine said.
“I was conscious but couldn’t move and had no idea what had just happened until Astrid came downstairs about 15 minutes later and recognised the symptoms – I’d had a stroke.”
Astrid explained that she immediately called the ambulance as well as a friend of theirs that lived down the road who was a paramedic.
“Our friend was able to triage Christine before the ambulance arrived, and when they did, he was able to brief them,” Astrid said.
Christine explained that “I was really unlucky to have stroke, but from that point on I was lucky – everything fell into line.”
Arriving at the RAH, Christine was hurried in for a scan which showed the clot on the right hand side of her brain. Astrid was soon asked to make treatment decisions, which included thrombolysis, to attempt to dissolve or break down the blood clot, and also a trial procedure. The first step was the thrombolysis treatment.
“It was phenomenal – it was about a 20 minute period from when Chris had the medication administered to when we could start to see her movement coming back,” Astrid said.
“While her speech was still inhibited, just seeing her toes start to move was such a huge relief.”
Following the thrombolysis treatment, Christine went in for the trial procedure but half an hour later Astrid was informed the clot had already dissolved.
“The thrombolysis had worked so well that by the time they got her in for the trial procedure, the clot had dissolved so much it wasn’t worth doing – it was amazing.”
Christine got her speech back the first day in hospital and on Friday that week was discharged to go home.
“During my recovery at home the area of my brain that was affected was the motivation area – so I struggled to feel interested in doing anything and my ability to think quickly took a while to come back,” Christine said.
“The two key areas for me during rehabilitation was the speech pathology, which ended up helping me with all my reasoning and thinking, and also the occupational therapy – they both challenged me, which I really needed.
“Once I was able to return to work, I was much more motivated and six months later I was promoted to a new position that I’m really thriving in.”
Christine considers herself very fortunate to be able to be living her life with limited side effects from the stroke.
“My after effects are nothing compared to other stroke patients – I’ve lost dexterity in three fingers which impacts my writing and I still lose some words,” Christine said.
“When we met Associate Professor Tim Kleinig, the clinician the team at the RAH had consulted, he showed us the scans which demonstrated the predicted brain death had the thrombolysis treatment not been successful – that blew us away.”
Christine and Astrid believe medical research as well as education of the signs and symptoms of stroke will help improve the future outcomes of stroke patients.
“Without my successful response to the treatment and fast thinking of those around me – I would not be standing here today, grateful for the life I have and working in a field of work that I love. I’m incredibly lucky,” said Christine.