Mother has remarkable recovery after a devastating stroke

The Butt FamilyOn New Year’s Day, the Butt family of six was rocked by a medical calamity when their mother, Samina, had a sudden stroke. Her son, Musahir, remembers that she walked out of the bathroom without turning off the tap and then leaned over the kitchen counter. Concerned, he followed her and asked if she was okay. When she turned towards him, he recalls that the left side of her face was drooping, and her speech was slurred. At that moment, Musahir screamed for their father, Naeem, to call the ambulance, realizing that something was not right.

Samina was rushed to the Emergency Department at Trillium Health Partners’ (THP) Mississauga Hospital. A CT scan revealed that she had suffered an intracranial haemorrhage, a stroke where a blood vessel in the brain ruptures, caused by undiagnosed hypertension over several years. Neurosurgeon Dr. Mihaly Kis explained to Samina’s husband Naeem and her children – Anam, Abeer, Musahir and Fatima – that she had suffered damage to her brain, causing paralysis on the left side of her body and was now at serious risk of dying. Dr. Kis told the family, “I’m going to do my best to save her.” Anam, the eldest of the siblings, recalls that Dr. Kis and the surgical team then performed a craniotomy to relieve the pressure in Samina’s brain before she was sent to the intensive care unit.

“We were devastated. We couldn’t comprehend how this was possible. Hours before, we were sitting in my mom’s living room casually chatting away. Now, we watched her in a coma, with little hope of survival,” Abeer says. “Those days were difficult, witnessing our mom lying motionless, intubated and in a state of helplessness.” As devout Muslims, the family turned to God and prayed for her recovery.

Samina spent four weeks in the intensive care unit at THP, during which she finally opened her eyes, slowly improving but still immobile and in a state of delirium. During her stay there, Fatima recalls a kind nurse who made a difference: “We were sitting with our mom and feeling emotional one day when one of the nurses came to us and provided us with words of comfort. Those moments, those conversations, they stay with you.” Samina spent another two weeks on the stroke unit at THP before being transferred to the family’s local hospital in Brampton for 10 weeks.

This was an especially challenging time for the entire family, who spent endless hours at the hospital. Samina’s husband Naeem had to balance between his work and the hospital while trying to remain strong for his children. Anam had her hands full with a toddler. Abeer was six months pregnant with her second child, Musahir was in his last year of university trying to map out his career and Fatima was in grade 12, waiting for acceptances from various universities. The family worked out a schedule and took turns visiting their mom, so that she was never left unattended.

When Samina finally came home to her family after months, she was in a wheelchair, the left side of her body immobile and she was suffering from anxiety because of gaps in her memory. She has made a remarkable recovery since then. With dedication, months of rehabilitation and positive encouragement from her family and friends, she can now stand on her own, walk using a stick, and speak effectively with others. Thankfully, she has also regained most of her memory. Today Samina loves family time and is grateful to be among her children and grandchildren.

To sum up their experience, Abeer says, “The staff at Trillium Health Partners were honest about my mother’s chance of recovery, however when I look at my mother now, I am truly grateful first and foremost to God for answering our prayers and giving us back our mom. Secondly, I’m thankful to Dr. Kis as well as the hospital staff who did what it took to save my mom’s life.”

Now completing her degree in Social Services at the University of Guelph, Fatima adds, “The experience initially turned my life upside down, but at the end it resulted in strengthening my relationship with God. From being unsure on whether I’d even be able to pursue secondary education to now being in my 4th year of university, I have realized that God always has a plan for you. I still remember the prayer that I made on the night of the stroke. I told God that I wanted a full recovery for my mom, and that’s what I’ve always believed in. For me, this journey is not over until my mom is completely healthy.”

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