A Patient Story – Jane

A Patient Story – Jane

It was Thursday morning and Jane was sitting at her kitchen table.  She had just finished breakfast when she lost her balance and fell off her chair into the floor. Jane tried to pick herself up but was unable to move. She had difficulty breathing and told her husband to grab the phone from her pocket.  Jane, age 77, is the primary caregiver of her husband, who suffers from Alzheimer’s. With her urging, he went to a neighbor for help.

When the EMT personnel arrived, they knew immediately that Jane was suffering from a stroke.  She recalled the paramedic announcing, “She has to go to Knoxville,” bypassing the local hospital. Jane does not remember many details but recalled that a nurse, from the stroke team, advised her to be very still because it was an emergency.  During the procedure Jane heard, Dr. Keith Woodward, Neuro-Interventional Radiologist with Vista Radiology, announcing, “We got it. You had a blood clot.” Jane could feel pain near her right ear as the clot was removed.  Following her procedure, she experienced some drawing on her right side but was talking and alert.

After discussion with Jane’s family, the doctors learned that earlier that week, she had a routine tooth extraction.  Jane was advised to stop her normal blood thinning medication.  She decided to wait until the following day to restart because the bleeding was so heavy.  Three days later, she suffered the stroke.

Jane is back to one mile walks three mornings a week and is able to care for her husband again.  “The Lord had everyone lined up for me that day,” said Jane.  When she met Dr. Woodward for a follow up visit, she expressed her extreme gratitude.  “I gave him a big hug for saving my life,” she exclaimed.

A Patient Story- Susan

A Patient Story- Susan

When friends asked her to watch their dog while they were out of town, Susan willingly offered. It was Saturday afternoon when she stopped by to take the lab mix for a walk when the dog noticed a cat. Susan saw the cat too and gave a precautionary tug on the leash when all of a sudden the dog pulled her to the ground. The force of the fall knocked the breath out of her. Susan took a few minutes to gather herself and make sure she was ok then continued to retrieve the dog.

A few days following, Susan attended her regular fitness class when she began to feel strange. “My neck was hurting and stiff. I thought maybe I strained it at the gym so I took medicine and went to bed early that evening.” The next day, her headache worsened so she asked a friend to drive her to urgent care to see if they could help relieve the pain. Following a normal x-ray, the physician advised her to go to the ER for a CT scan.

Susan, age 36, recently started a new position and did not have active insurance. She was hesitant to face the out of pocket expenses of an ER visit. Susan asked her friend to stop by her house before continuing to the ER. When she began feeling light headed and heard loud buzzing sounds, she knew she needed to go to the hospital as soon as possible. At the ER, it was determined she had post concussive pain related to her fall and was sent home with pain medications.

Her neighbor and close friend, Linda insisted on staying with her that evening. Around 3am the next morning, Susan awoke with severe vomiting and ultimately collapsed in the floor. Her friend immediately called 911 for help. Susan recalls the paramedics arriving but was unable to communicate. At the ER, they performed an EEG and sent her to a room. Quickly, a nurse recognized her condition was worsening and called for help. As Susan was transported to Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center, she began to recognize there was a serious problem with the right side of her body. “No matter how many times they tried to straighten my right arm it would continue to draw up to my chest,” recalled Susan.

As Susan was rushed into surgery, she recalled being awake. During her procedure, Dr. Keith Woodward, Neuro-Interventional Radiologist with Vista Radiology, announced, “Here’s the problem,” as he removed the clot from her brain. Following surgery, Susan’s family was told she would never walk, talk, or eat on her own again. She was given a 5% chance of her condition improving.

When she awoke in the ICU, Susan couldn’t talk or move her right side. She was only able to scream, yell or grunt. She felt the urge to cry and scream but couldn’t. When her family and doctors shared that she had suffered a stroke, she thought, “I’m too young to have a stroke.” Susan spent three weeks in Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center and an additional 2 and half months with relatives while she participated in outpatient therapy.

Susan’s recovery is nothing short of a miracle. She has nearly fully recovered and is able to care for herself and live a normal life. She admits, that she’ll never be the same person as before the accident that triggered her stroke. The newlywed relocated to Arkansas with her husband and serves as a volunteer in the Stroke Unit of Baptist Health in Little Rock. Susan shared, “I want to encourage patients and show them there is life after a stroke.”

Physician Highlight: Robert Santee, M.D.

Physician Highlight:
Robert Santee, M.D.

Robert Santee realized that he wanted to pursue helping others early in life. In middle school, he discovered a love of science which ultimately led to his pursuit of a medical degree from Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, TX. Following a four-year residency in St. Louis, MO, Dr. Santee completed his Body Imaging fellowship at LSU.

Dr. Santee moved to Sevier county to be closer to family, in 2003, when he joined Vista Radiology group. At LeConte Medical Center, in Sevierville, TN, he holds several key positions including Chief of Staff, Medical Director of Imaging and Radiology Safety Officer. Dr. Santee oversees a wide variety of specialized radiology services offered at LeConte from women’s imaging to biopsies to interventional procedures. “I enjoy the variety of my work,” said Dr. Santee. He went on to explain, “I especially appreciate the direct interaction I have with my patients. The most challenging aspect is when I have to deliver difficult news.”

When describing his experience working with the 3rd largest radiology group in Tennessee, he explained why he chose to partner with Vista Radiology. “I value collaboration within our team. Our interventional radiologists provide training for new procedures so that I can offer more specialized services at my location which makes treatment options more convenient for our patients.” Dr. Santee shared how important community is to him in his role. “When I began working with Vista, I made a commitment to not only work but live in Sevier County. I wanted to be part of the community,” said Dr. Santee.

In his spare time, Dr. Santee enjoys spending time with friends. He loves being outdoors and hiking in the nearby Smoky Mountains. One of his favorite destinations is Biltmore Estates and Gardens in Asheville, NC. When he’s not on land, he can be found underwater scuba diving with his high school friends in Belize, Aruba, or the Cayman Islands.