Deb Reynolds shouldn’t have survived her aneurysms. “The doctors said because of the severity, I had a one-percent chance of surviving and even less of a chance to be OK,” the 52-year-old said. Nearly eight months later, she is not only alive, but recovered and functioning well.
On October 4, Reynolds and her husband of 31 years, JR Reynolds, decided to drive two miles from their home in Tenderfoot Hill to have breakfast in Cripple Creek. “He wasn’t even supposed to be home that day, but I had asked him to take a vacation day and stay home with me; I’d just had a weird intuition,” Deb said. “If he hadn’t been there, I’d have been dead.”
Deb doesn’t remember much about the drive, other than a severe headache and whited out vision. “All I can say is it hurt, and I couldn’t control my arms and legs; I was like a limp noodle in this white world,” she said. JR immediately turned the car around and drove home, where he called 9-1-1 and an ambulance came from the local fire station. “The highway was blocked that day because they were having a bike race, but they were able to get through the road block,” he said. “They knew something was very wrong, so they called in Flight for Life.”
“We live on a mountaintop, but it happened to be a nice day, so they were able to get the helicopter in quickly,” Deb added. “So many things like that had to fall into place for me to live through this.” Flight for Life took Deb to Penrose Hospital in downtown Colorado Springs. Penrose-St. Francis Health Services 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.
At Penrose Hospital, Deb underwent testing and scans to find the two aneurysms in her brain, one of which had ruptured and was bleeding. Scott Shay, MD and director of interventional neuroradiology at Penrose-St. Francis Health Services, performed an endovascular coiling procedure that day to get the burst aneurysm under control and stop the bleeding.
Deb recovered for a month in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and returned in February to have her second aneurysm fixed, minimizing her chances of it rupturing and causing a hemorrhagic stroke. She has a few short-term memory issues and is a bit unsteady on her feet, but is grateful for the team at Penrose-St. Francis that saved her life. “Dr. Shay is my hero,” Deb said. “He keeps his spirits up and he’s a joy to be around. The last day I was in the hospital, he came in early to make sure I was discharged at a good time so we could drive back up to Cripple Creek for breakfast. He knew that was part of my life and routine, so it was important to him. He’s a great neurologist and an even greater person.”