Truro stroke survivor has renewed hope with new car

Published on December 19, 2013

Truro resident Dan Huntley spends the majority of his days in a wheelchair in his apartment on Munroe Court, however, he regained some of his independence after purchasing a vehicle with everything equipped to the right-hand side. Raissa Tetanish – Truro Daily News

TRURO – Dan Huntley didn’t take his doctors’ advice when told to accept a disability following a stroke.

Huntley, an Antigonish native who moved to Truro this past summer, suffered a stroke eight years ago this coming March and was told he would never walk again. He proved his doctors wrong and has since gotten his driver’s license back.

“One of my doctors told me to accept my disability and get on with my life,” said the 66-year-old, who still has some paralysis on the left side of his body. “I looked at her and said, ‘I hope this never happens to you.’”

About a week-and-a-half ago, Huntley regained some of his independence when he purchased the car he wanted – a Hyundai Elantra that is equipped to suit his needs.

“After my stroke, my license was taken from me. Every time something is taken, it feels like a tooth being pulled. It left me so discouraged.”

With his license in hand this past summer, it gave him some renewed hope.

“I was excited I was going to be able to drive again. Having my license taken was worse than having my stroke. It gave me a little lift in life to be able to do that again.”

Huntley was attending a church service in Antigonish in March of 2006 when he felt a pain in the right side of his head. It was near the end of the service and when it was time to leave, Huntley grabbed onto a railing to help him down the stairs but his hands couldn’t grip it.

“My arms went numb,” he said, adding he knew he had to sit down for fear of falling face-first. “I sat down and went down the stairs one at a time. When I hit the ground, I just flipped over and hit my head on the concrete. I remember all of it.”

For two years following the stroke, Huntley spent time in four different hospitals and rehabilitation in Halifax. He then moved in with his brother in Antigonish, but made the decision after five years to move out on his own.

He moved to Halifax to be with his “church family,” but that became too expensive so Huntley found the Wallace Living building on Munroe Court.

He is as close to independence and living on his own as he can be, but he does have access to someone 24 hours a day if something were to happen.

“The stroke didn’t hurt my brain, just physically,” he said, adding the left side of his body feels like it was frozen and never returned to normal.

“I was always a doer. I was always mechanically inclined and I still am in my mind, but my left side doesn’t work.”

Spending the majority of his days in a wheelchair, Huntley has started weekly concert nights in the common area of the building. He takes his laptop with him and uses a wireless connection to play music on the television.

A prayer group has also started at the living centre, where the residents participate in prayer and hymns. They even sang Christmas carols Sunday night.

“It helps me to be able to do that stuff,” he said.

Now that winter has arrived, Huntley won’t spend much time on the road – he made up his mind when he got his license back not to drive in the winter unless the roads were bare.

“I have a spinner on my wheel – it’s a knob on the wheel that turns – I have better control that way,” he said about when he is behind the wheel of his car.

The vehicle’s emergency brake is near his right hand, and he also had a tool installed to bring the control for the signal light across to the right-hand side.

“This has given me extra hope. I still believe that someday it will be over,” he said.

Twitter: @TDNRaissa