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Brain stroke

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At age 69, Restituta Kilmer had her first stroke; at age 72, she had her second – and what should be her last, thanks to the quick action of the stroke management team at Penrose-St. Francis Health Services. Penrose-St. Francis 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.

In September, Kilmer suddenly became disoriented walking around her Colorado Springs home. “I was so dizzy, I kept asking my husband to help me, she said.” After Kilmer lost her balance, her husband helped her get to the living room and sit down to rest. “Then he took me into the bathroom and I fell again,” she said. “That’s when I knew we needed to call 9-1-1.” Thankfully, Kilmer was uninjured in the falls, but an ambulance came and took her to Penrose Hospital where scans showed she’d had a stroke. The stroke was caused by a blood clot in Kilmer’s heart that had formed due to a patent foramen ovale (PFO), or a hole in the heart that connects the left and right heart chambers.

Kilmer was referred to the Penrose-St. Francis Anticoagulation Clinic to treat her clot and underwent outpatient rehabilitation as part of her recovery. One month later, Scott Shay, MD and director of interventional neuroradiology at Penrose-St. Francis Health Services, also performed a procedure to open up a major vessel that supplies blood to the brain; it had substantially narrowed and threatened to cause future strokes due to lack of blood flow. “Now, I should be OK, no more strokes, I hope,” Kilmer said.

Kilmer is retired after working for 20 years as a nurse’s aide at St. Francis Medical Center, part of the Centura family. She knew Penrose-St. Francis provided quality health services, but her experiences in both the hospitals and rehabilitation cemented her appreciation for her former employer. “The really took good care of me,” she said.

Kilmer had a follow-up appointment with Dr. Shay this spring and everything checked out. “I have my energy back, I feel good,” she said. She is grateful for a third chance at life and is soaking up as much time with her family as possible. “I have two children, a son and a daughter,” Kilmer said. “They were with me through everything, I’m so thankful.”

Pikes Peak Newspapers, Editor

Hannah Blick has lived in the Pikes Peak region for six years. She studied journalism at Kansas State University and enjoys biking, skiing and hiking in the Rockies.

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