Todd Tuckey is back home and on the road to recovery, but the well-known Barrie businessman and Barrie Chamber of Commerce president admits he's lucky to be alive.
On Saturday, June 19, Tuckey suffered a brain aneurysm that left him hospitalized in an intensive care unit (ICU) at a Toronto hopsital for more than a week.
Tuckey told BarrieToday he had just finished vacuuming the pool for his stepdaughter’s 15th birthday party when he felt like he’d been hit in the back of the neck with a baseball bat.
“I felt a pop in my head, my ears popped and I broke into an immediate sweat. My fingers started to tingle. I came inside, put the ceiling fan on to cool down, laid down and woke up five minutes later and was in a pool of water,” he said.
Tuckey then had to rush himself to the bathroom where he was sick to his stomach.
“I called (my wife), who was out running errands and she rushed home and took me to the ER," he said.
Tuckey said he was initially misdiagnosed as having pinched nerves in his neck, noting the doctor put a series of needles in the back of his neck to freeze it before releasing him and sending him home with a prescription for morphine to help deal with the pain.
By Monday, Tuckey said he was still in agony and was taking the pain medication every two hours to no avail. His wife, Sandy, reached out to the family doctor, who Tuckey said was shocked when he learned no tests had been conducted during the emergency-room visit and immediately called Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH) and insisted they return there immediately.
“I don’t remember any of this as I was basically out of it, but I do remember being in the hospital at RVH and someone saying ‘you’ve had a brain aneurysm and we are taking you down to Toronto’.”
He was quickly ushered into an ambulance and transported to Toronto Western Hospital, where he spent the next eight days in the ICU.
“I had my own nurse 24/7 who sat outside my room. For the entire eight days, they had to come in every single hour and wake me up and do a cognitive test and strength tests to make sure nothing had gotten worse," Tuckey said.
Despite being put through a gamut of different tests, doctors were never able to determine what the source of the bleeding was or what caused it, Tuckey acknowledged.
After just over a week in the ICU, Tuckey said he was informed by his doctor that he was healing well and would likely be discharged in two weeks.
Two days later, the same doctor came in and surprised him with even better news — the medical team had concluded that he could actually be released much sooner than had initially been anticipated.
“They said, ‘we can’t explain your body or how it’s recovered. You’re a bit of a miracle’," he said.
They then told him he’d be moved to another floor for the day and would be released the following day.
The bleeding had stopped and his healing, according to the medical team, was “miraculous,” recalled Tuckey, who said doctors felt the best place for him to recover was at home.
“I was so happy. I was only allowed one visitor period for up to two hours… and that was my wife, so I wasn’t able to see my children. I was just so happy that they felt I was healthy enough (to come home). To be able to see my family and sleep in my own bed, was just a big mental relief,” he said.
His family was just as happy to have him home and on the road to recovery.
“It was touch and go for a little while, especially when I got down to Toronto," he said. "They weren’t sure if I was going to make it because of all of the bleeding I had and that I’d gone three days without it being addressed. … They were scared, but were they ever happy to have me home."
More than one month after the incident, Tuckey told BarrieToday the prognosis is very good.
“I am a little nervous that they couldn't find the source of it, but they said the vessels were strong and they think it was probably one of those one off things and can’t explain it. After checking my head, they don’t anticipate it happening again," he said.
Tuckey says he plans to slowly resume his “normal life,” but admitted it will take some time.
“I am not up very long or I get very tired,” he said, adding he's following doctor’s orders and getting out for short walks around the neighborhood. “I nap a lot, but I feel good.”
Tuckey said he is now off all pain medication and the headaches have ceased.
“I take an Advil now and then and get a little dizzy… but I am one of the lucky ones. The doctors in Toronto said I am lucky to be here and that I could have bled out," he said.
"They were surprised I was still with them... when I got shipped down there to them. Thank God I am not somebody who lives alone and had someone like Sandy who could advocate for me and reach out to my doctors to say something was wrong.”
Knowing how different the outcome could have been for him, Tuckey says it’s important never to take anything for granted and urges everyone to pay attention to their body. He says to be persistent and pay attention to any warning signs.
"This was a form of a stroke. ... If you have a medical issue and something just doesn’t feel right, follow up. Don’t let it go. Nothing is more important than your health,” he said. “I was in too much pain and out of it to fend for myself.
"And if it wasn’t for Sandy, I wouldn’t be here today.”