A Connecticut nurse shares his stroke story

Mark Twain once wrote in a letter “The report of my death is greatly exaggerated”. To personalize this, I didn’t die, and I’m not paralyzed – thanks to many. Here is my story.

On Friday night, April 24th, I experienced a sudden onset of left leg weakness, and numbness and tingling in my left arm while in the kitchen. As I attempted to walk to the living room I walked into a wall, stumbled over my own feet and fell onto the living room sofa. My mind immediately raced to all of the stroke patients I had cared for over my many years in nursing and I fully understood that I was having a stroke. Truthfully, my very first thought was that I just ruined my plans for a great Saturday but then I somehow started thinking clearly. I called 911 immediately and yelled at my roommate to wake up. When he didn’t appear instantly I dragged myself to his door and started yelling and pounding on the door. That behavior also woke everyone else up as well.

EMS arrived, assessed my condition and loaded me into the ambulance. Five minutes into the ride my left arm and leg became flaccid, essentially dead. I couldn’t feel anything and I couldn’t move either extremity. My speech was difficult and slurred and I accepted at that moment that the worst was happening. But in spite of all that was occurring, my faith and my spirituality took over and I accepted that whatever God’s reason was for this to happen to me, it had to be right because it had to be in His plan. I did question Him briefly as to what His will for a paralyzed RN, LMT, ski bum was since I hadn’t seen many job postings for these positions, but I knew He would soon show me.

At the Hospital I immediately had a CAT Scan (computed tomography scan), of my head which revealed that I didn’t have an intracranial bleed. I was given tPA, an intravenous thrombolytic medication that “dissolves” blood clots, sort of like how Draino dissolves hair clogs in your drains. Within 20 minutes I started to get some sensation back in my arm and leg and within 30 minutes of the start of the infusion I was again moving my left arm and leg as if nothing had happened.

I was transferred to another hospital for a neurological workup and monitoring. I had an MRI, (magnetic resonance imaging), another CAT scan of the head and an echocardiogram were done. As a result of my knowing to call 9-1-1- and the incredibly fast and professional care I received, I walked out of the hospital with no neurological deficit and no brain damage.

I am beyond grateful. Without the help I received that Friday night, I could well be paralyzed on my left side, or dead today. I was blessed with a houseful of caring and loving people who were there to help me, and an ER that truly gave me back the gift of life that night. Each healthcare provided and the amazing stroke program they all practiced contributed to my complete recovery. I’m writing this because I was blessed, and I was aware that I needed to activate EMS as soon as I recognized my symptoms. Unfortunately, many people experiencing stroke symptoms either deny them or decide to take a nap thinking they will go away. The result of those actions leads to total disability or death.

I want everyone who reads this to please post the warning Signs and Symptoms of a stroke. If even one person reads them, acts on them and recovers as I did, then you have saved a life. A stroke occurring in anyone is a life or death situation and time is of the essence. That stroke victim, if suffering an ischemic stroke needs to receive the clot busting medication within three hours of the onset of symptoms.
I can’t begin to express how grateful I am, and how incredible I feel today. I will be forever grateful to my housemates, the Hospital staff, and the neurologists and Neurology ICU staff. God brought all of these people together and worked through them to save me. May God bless them all.

Signs and Symptoms – With a stroke, time lost is brain lost. Learn the warning signs.

• Sudden onset of numbness or weakness in face, hand, arm or leg
• Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
• Sudden severe headache with no known cause
• Sudden difficulty seeing in one or both eyes
• Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
• Sudden difficulty chewing or swallowing

If you experience any of these symptoms Call 911 Immediately