The image features a graphic of a brain being looked at with a magnifying glass. The copy in the callout below the graphic at the bottom of the image reads: World Stroke Day #StrongerAfterStroke

It can happen to anyone

It can happen to anyone

As a nurse, Leaha Beattie-Palmer is aware of the signs and symptoms of a stroke. She also knows how important it is to take immediate action to help a patient experiencing a stroke, in order to improve recovery outcomes. And still, her experience caught her by surprise. 

Reflecting back, there was nothing outstanding or out of the ordinary about December 8, 2020. Beattie-Palmer even recalls going to bed at a normal time and feeling fine. Sometime in the middle of the night, however, things changed. And quickly. 

“I woke up with just the smallest twinge of a headache,” she recalls. “And so I thought I’d go downstairs and get a pain reliever. But, when I went to get up, I couldn’t move my legs.” 

Thinking that her feet must just be tangled in the sheets, she tried to roll a different way. Still, her legs were unresponsive. Somehow she ended up on the floor. 

“I dragged myself to the door, still not really thinking straight, or acknowledging or accepting that something was wrong,” she continues. “By the time I made it to the door, I was physically ill with exhaustion from the exertion, and so I started banging on the floor for help.”

Her commotion woke her husband and a daughter. “I remember my daughter saying my face didn’t look right. And my husband saying he thought I was having a stroke. I think I yelled some obscenities, and I tried to wave their insistence of calling an ambulance away. I’m glad they didn’t listen.”

In his quick assessment of her stroke symptoms, which for her included slurred and irregular speech, facial drooping, and body weakness, Beattie-Palmer’s husband didn’t waste time in getting her the care she needed. 

“The paramedics came and carried me out of the house and rushed me to Grand River Hospital, where I was treated immediately. In total, the right side of my brain was without oxygen and blood for six hours. I was told, had it been any longer, I wouldn’t have had such a positive outcome.” In fact, her care team shared that had she not come in when she did, she probably would have ended up in long term care. 

“It’s scary. I wasn’t a typical stroke patient. I didn’t have any known risk factors, like diabetes or high cholesterol, and I was only 50.” And this is something she wants everyone to take away from her experience. That anyone can have a stroke. 

Beattie-Palmer spent 42 weeks between GRH’s KW Campus, Hamilton General, and GRH’s Freeport Campus. Thanks to the fast thinking of her family, and the immediate care she received, she’s had a tremendous recovery, and has even returned to work. 

“I’m grateful that we have a stroke centre in our community, and for the care I received both at Grand River and Hamilton General,” she says. “If anyone ever feels like something isn’t right, if your speech is off, your face is drooping, or your limbs aren’t working, don’t double guess it. Act quickly and call for an ambulance. Every minute matters.” 


Time is Brain! 1.9 million brain cells die per minute. Know the signs and symptoms of a stroke, and call 9-1-1- immediately:

Balance: loss of balance, headache, or dizziness 
Eyes: blurred vision
Face: one side of face is drooping
Arms: arm or leg weakness
Speech: difficulty speaking or slurred words
Time: don’t hesitate, call 9-1-1 immediately 


Grand River Hospital is the regional centre of the Waterloo Wellington Integrated Stroke Program. We provide emergency care, acute post-stroke care, and rehabilitation to restore function and quality of life. A stroke impacts your brain, cutting off blood and oxygen flow. Call 9-1-1 and tell them if you suspect you or a loved one are experiencing a stroke to get the care you need, when you need it.