Emergency 911 Scene

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“My story is simple, but complicated,” Joe* said. It all started in May 2014, during a month-long trip to Hong Kong. “I developed a blood clot that traveled all the way through my body, my heart, my lungs – and got lodged in the right side of my brain.” As a result, Joe experienced a stroke on May 19 at age 60 and was simultaneously diagnosed with cardiomyopathy – disease of the heart muscle.

“I had felt horrible for about five days, but just attributed it to jet lag from overseas travel,” he said. “But that was the first time I knew something was really wrong.”

An ambulance came to Joe’s home; medics did a triage exam and quickly realized he was having a stroke. They immediately took him to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at St. Francis Medical Center where the stroke management team began assessing and treating Joe. They administered tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), which treats ischemic strokes by dissolving blood clots and improving blood flow to the brain. “Ten minutes later, I was leaping tall buildings, but I needed to stay in ICU for 72 hours,” Joe said.

Joe participated in one week of rehabilitation at St. Francis after his initial recovery. Clinton Malone, MD, cardiologist at Penrose-St. Francis, helped treat Joe’s cardiomyopathy. “His left ventricular function has recovered with medical therapy,” Dr. Malone said. Penrose-St. Francis is part of the Centura Health Heart and Vascular Network, the region’s leading provider of cardiovascular care.

“That facility is world class,” Joe said. “The people are absolute professionals and they exhibit it in everything they do, from the CNAs to the nurses to the rehab team; they’re very sensitive in their work.”

Prior to his stroke and heart disease diagnosis, Joe had been extremely active, exercising daily and had no disabilities. “This was a bolt of lightning, an absolute fluke,” he said. Joe credits the team at St. Francis with his 100-percent recovery and being able to get back to his active lifestyle.

“They have absolutely a top-notch professional team of experts,” he said. “The staff’s sense of care, not only for the patients, but the families involved is second to none.” Joe has returned to work and said he takes nothing for granted after his stroke.

“Now, I’m even more aware of proper rest and proper diet,” he said. “And just being thankful every day that the folks at St. Francis did their jobs.”

*Name has been changed for privacy reasons.

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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