A Patient Story
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.”