Rosie Scutti sat at her breakfast table reading the day’s newspaper when she felt a slight ripple across the right side of her face, from earlobe to chin. She reached up to swat away what she thought might be a pesky gnat. “But, it was late November, so I realized there shouldn’t be any gnats out,” she said. “I had no clue what it was.”
The rippling subsided, and 69-year-old Scutti moved on with her day, until she felt the same, strange sensation later. “It kept happening, every other day or two,” she said. “One time it happened right as I was trying to fall asleep.”
Scutti started to think it might have something to do with her family health history. “My mother had a stroke, and my father had carotid artery surgery on both sides of his neck.” After checking in with her primary care physician in Cañon City, she came to Colorado Springs for a sonogram, which revealed her own artery was 80-99 percent blocked. “It was shocking,” she said.
Scutti was given two options: surgery, which would require her to be under general anesthesia for four hours, or go see Scott Shay, MD, for a stenting procedure. “I decided to go with the stent,” Scutti said. “I’d had bad reactions to anesthesia before, and this would only take about two hours.”
Dr. Shay inserted a stent into her artery on February 19, and afterwards told Scutti her blockage was the worst he’d ever seen, with blood flow to her brain resembling a mere thread, the width of barely a human hair. “He couldn’t believe I hadn’t already had a stroke or died; I was very lucky,” she said. “Dr. Shay took wonderful care of me, I credit him with my life. He took the time to answer all my questions and explain the procedure to me, he never made me feel rushed or unimportant.” Shay is also the director of interventional neuroradiology at Penrose-St. Francis Health Services, which provides 24/7 advanced stroke treatment and was named a certified Advanced Primary Stroke Center by The Joint Commission. Penrose-St. Francis is part of Centura Health, the region’s leading healthcare network.
Thanks to the stent, the left side of Scutti’s brain started receiving 10,000-times the blood volume it had been prior to the procedure. “When they told me that, it was so surreal,” she said. Scutti has almost fully recovered from her procedure and said her energy levels are much higher. “Before, doing normal things like folding laundry and washing the dishes felt like trying to climb Mt. Everest on my hands and knees.”
Scutti is thankful her blockage was caught before she suffered loss of any neurological or physical function. She believes alert physicians and knowledge of her family history and physical health were key in preventing stroke.
“It is so important to listen to your body,” she said. “If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t be here today.”