Eliza Shaw

Eliza Shaw is determined to succeed after a stroke

Eliza Shaw and her care team

On July 11, 2020, Eliza Shaw had planned to head to the grocery store as she often did on Saturdays. But after noticing that she wasn’t feeling well, Shaw ended up taking a very different trip that morning to the hospital, and wouldn’t make it back to a grocery store any time soon.

After being rushed to Toronto Western Hospital and being admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU), it was revealed that Shaw had suffered a stroke in her brainstem that would leave her unable to move on her own or to speak.

Shaw woke up in the ICU with no recollection of what had happened that morning. “When I woke up, there was a nurse in my room and I was hooked up to a bunch of wires,” she says. “I couldn’t move. My mother had a stroke and never walked again, so I was scared.”

Shaw’s stroke left her without sensation on the right side of her body, and she was transferred to West Park Healthcare Centre’s Neurological Rehabilitation Service two weeks later, still unable to move or speak.

“When I got to West Park, I couldn’t say a word or even swallow,” she recalls. Motivated by trying to avoid the same fate as her mother, Shaw threw herself into hours-long rehab, working with a speech language pathologist on regaining her swallowing and voice, and an occupational therapist to learn how to dress on her own and regain some use of her right arm.

With so much work ahead of her, Shaw and the clinical staff at West Park knew she had a challenging road ahead of her.

“When Eliza first came to us, she had a lot of challenges,” says physiotherapist Lynn Suter. “But her hard work, dedication, and perseverance has led to a level of success that we could only have hoped for.”

Shaw credits her progress to her team at West Park and her dedication to physical rehabilitation during long days at the hospital. With her time as an inpatient coming to an end, Shaw is committed to continuing her work as an outpatient with as much dedication and hard work as she has so far.