Jordan: Stroke at Age 15, Canada

Leah’s Story
Sunday January 12, 2014 was like any other Sunday. My son Jordan had to ref a hockey game in the morning and afterwards he was going to play in his own Midget house league game. I was supposed to go to the airport to pick up my older son but his flight was delayed so I ended up going to the game instead. I wasn’t dressed for the ice rink so I watched from the warm room, which was very unusual for me because I liked being at ice level to watch the games.

Halfway through the game, I looked down and noticed the team crowding around the bench. I thought someone had been hurt and then I saw my husband, a team coach, waving me to come down. I instantly got sick to my stomach. Jordan was a very good hockey player, healthy and at 6’2” and had never been hurt mostly because he was bigger and faster than most of his teammates. I can’t remember getting from the warm room to the ice, but my heart stopped when I got there and the kids were helping lay him flat on the ice. My mind went blank. My husband’s first thought was that Jordan was having a heart attack! A parent had noticed Jordan collapsing and called 911 right away. While we were kneeling by his side, I was trying to get him to stay awake and focus on me, but he said his vision was blurry and he was seeing double, and his speech was slurred when he tried to speak. My husband said he was tripping up in his skates during the game and he just laughed it off saying his skates had to be sharpened. He was also fumbling the puck and decided to change his stick thinking that was the issue. But when Jordan skated to the bench, he got a terribly sharp pain in his right temple and collapsed. The firefighters were the first to arrive and they quickly checked his heart and assured us it was strong. The EMT showed up right behind them and whisked Jordan off very quickly to the hospital just 5 minutes away.

He was barely conscious at the Janeway Children’s Hospital so they sedated and intubated him so they could run some tests. At first they thought it might be a severe migraine, and then they thought perhaps Bacterial Meningitis. It wasn’t until a CAT scan was done that they discovered a dissection or tear in his right carotid artery on the base of his skull. When this happens, your body’s natural defense is to send a blood clot to repair internal damage but the clotting only made the artery tear more until one broke off and traveled to his brain causing a stroke.

The term “blood clot” is something we could process, but when we heard the word “stroke” our whole world fell apart.

Jordan’s Story
This first thing I remember after collapsing was waking up in a hospital with a large team of doctors standing around me.  I had been airlifted from Newfoundland to Toronto Sick Kids Hospital where they have a team of doctors for Pediatric Stroke. They performed an angiogram to confirm a dissection and started a blood thinner treatment. I was paralyzed on the left side of my body entirely from head to toe. I also lost vision in my left eye. After three weeks I was stable enough to go home and then I began an intense rehabilitation program, 6 hours a day, 5 days a week for 11 months.

The day before I had my stroke, I was reffing a game and I cracked my neck like I always did. I went home with a pain in my neck and my mom gave me ibuprofen and I slept for a long time. The next day I was feeling better so I played again and that’s the day I collapsed.  The Neurologists believe that my bad habit of manipulating (cracking/over stretching) my neck could have caused the tear in my artery. Looking back now I had ALL the signs of STROKE. Facial droop, Arm weakness, Slurred speech, Time to call 911 as outlined in Heart and Stroke’s F.A.S.T. campaign worldwide, but because of my age I was not diagnosed right away.  I was a perfectly healthy 15-year-old boy and I had a stroke.

Jordan ChaulkTwo years later and I am now in my senior year and have returned to high school full-time with Physio and Occupational therapy after school 4 days a week. I have regained my vision and the use of my left side with the exception of the fine motor skills in my left hand, but I am improving every day. I know how very lucky I am that there was no cognitive, visual or hearing loss, however it still isn’t easy to be a teenager in a society where any physical impairments are not understood. I don’t like the word “disability” because that means I am not able to perform a task. I can do anything I put my mind to, it just might be in a different way than everyone else… for now.

I think the most important thing for people to know is STROKE can happen to ANYONE  at ANY age! You can be young and completely healthy and still have a stroke, but the younger you are, the better your chances are of recovery if you do the work…. And I don’t mind doing the work. This month, I will be returning to the ice to play hockey for the first time since January 12, 2014 in a Heart and Stroke Fundraiser and I will also graduate on time with my class June 2016.

10 Responses to “Jordan: Stroke at Age 15, Canada

  • What an inspiration you are, Jordan! I hope my son is as strong as you are. You set a wonderful example about the power of perseverance for not just our survivors, but for all kids everywhere. Thank you for sharing your story!

    • Thank you for the nice words Lauren! Did your son have a stroke too??

  • Way to go Jordan! I would love for you to meet my Blake, she experienced her stroke just two months before you. You have so much in common, returning to high school after a stroke is not any easy task. Enjoy graduation, it is truly a spectacular moment after all you have overcome!

    • Thank you Lisa! How is Blake doing now? Good I hope! It would be nice to meet your daughter someday!

  • Kendra White (Snelgrove)
    4 years ago

    Jordan you are an absolute trooper and fighter. I’m not sure if you remember me or not but I was a regular substitute at Hazelwood for many many years! I took a replacement in grade five for Mr. Walsh for a couple months and you were in that class. I remember you so well. Sweet, mannerly, smart and funny. I remember your dad bringing in your instrument in the class for you (guitar? Something big and heavy….ha). When I heard this story I was shocked. I prayed and thought of you often. I’m so glad you’re doing better and I know you will be playing hockey and back to yourself in no time. Keep fighting and being positive. You’re a role model for many! Take care xo

    • Thanks so much! I remember you too! I appreciate the kind words and prayers. It’s been hard the past two years but I have to keep doing what I can to beat this!

  • I agree your story is very inspirational! My little stroke survivor is putting in hard work too but is to young to understand what happened yet he was only 2 1/2. Thank you Jordan for sharing your story and for helping to bring more awareness! Keep up your hard work!

    • Hi Steph, I hope your son is doing better than ever. I’m sure he will do fine! Thanks for the kind words!!

  • Suadad Najim
    1 year ago

    Thank you for sharing your story Jordan… Being a mother of a young stroke survivor, I know how tough of a ride it is… and how much courage and perseverance it requires to keep going for therapy and keeping the positive vibe of “I’m gonna get through this”… My son Mohamed, now 12and a half, had his stroke about a year and a half ago… But instead of hockey, he was a water polo goal and got the attack during practice too… And same scenario, because of his age, doctors dismissed the idea of a stroke… and didn’t act FAST… two days after; it was diagnosed… a dissection that led to a clot that led to a stroke… My heart goes out to your mother… it is the hardest thing to see your baby in such a situation and feel so helpless… But your courage, all of you young stroke survivors, is inspirational and you all make us very very proud of you… Much love… God bless you.

  • So glad you are getting most of it back and able to get back to your life. My son was 16 and had a stroke the day after you….all too similiar…he was cracking his neck alot and also had a dissection of the carotid artery that affected the left side. He did rehabilitation at RUSK in NYC for about 2 months then came home and did outpatient for a while.. he got into some research programs in Queens. He is driving now and has a job but is unable to use his left hand. He also had surgery to relieve the swelling on his brain, by removing a bone…then it was replaced 2 months after. Best of luck in continuing with therapy..I pray you get all of your function back.

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