A Patient Story: LaVerne Van Dorselaer
It was Saturday afternoon following her 89thbirthday. LaVerne was enjoying lunch with her daughter at a local restaurant. “I reached for my leftovers, but I couldn’t grasp it,” LaVerne explained. In her mind, she reassured her daughter she was alright but in reality she was not.
Her daughter Karen had driven from Atlanta to celebrate her mother’s birthday. When they finished lunch, she noticed the blank look on her mom’s face. She was not moving. Then, Karen realized one side of LaVerne’s face was drooping and immediately asked a hostess to call 911. She was aware of the signs of a stroke and knew that time was of the essence.
In the ambulance, LaVerne recalled a scurry of activity and her anxiety began to rise. She arrived at Fort Sanders Hospital within 30 minutes of her first symptoms thanks to the quick response of EMT personnel. LaVerne recalled one of the EMTs touching her foot in the hallway and looking at her with a reassuring smile. “He was one of my angels,” LaVerne explained.
As she was prepped by the T3 Trauma Team, her family gathered with Dr. Hixson. He reviewed her CT Scan and shared treatment options as well as possible outcomes. As the family gathered, they asked Dr. Hixson if they could pray over him. With clutched hands, they asked for God’s guidance as he attempted to remove the clot from LaVerne’s head.
During LaVerne’s procedure, she waited rather impatiently for all of the action to subside. As Dr. Hixson removed the clot from her brain, she promptly regained her speech and announced, “How much longer will this take?” Dr. Hixson laughed as he reflected on her response. Most procedures like LaVerne’s take approximately 15 minutes and his fastest to date was 9 minutes.
LaVerne’s spirited personality was back as she greeted her family in the recovery room. She spent one evening in ICU and was discharged the following day. In the days that followed, they discovered that the removal of a routine medication, due to another scheduled procedure, caused the blood clot to form in LaVerne’s head.
A few weeks following the incident, LaVerne was back to her normal routine and enjoying the company of her Knoxville family who checks in with her routinely. The family has been changed by the experience. In honor of LaVerne, they kicked off 10/20/30 for Vernie, a family fundraiser and commitment to exercise in order to grow stroke awareness. The family plans to donate the funds to the Ft. Sanders Regional Stroke Team in honor of Dr. Hixson.
When asked how the events changed her, LaVerne explains, “God kept me alive for a reason and I’m waiting for Him to show me what He needs me to do.”