Steve Roark always knew his risks for experiencing a stroke were higher than most. “My mother had two, possibly three, strokes,” he said. At 56, Roark has experienced two strokes, but is proud to have survived both and be on the road to recovery.
After Roark suffered his first stroke 10 years ago, he had surgery on his carotid artery and changed his diet, choosing to eat healthier and exercise more. “My cholesterol levels were at a good place,” he said. “I knew having another was a risk, but I just never thought it would happen. It really caught me off guard.”
In January, Roark experienced his second stroke. “It happened while I was driving,” he said. “I was fully capable of driving but I suddenly I was at a loss of words, I started almost stuttering and couldn’t finish telling a story. I changed the subject, but it made no sense to my wife, so she asked if I was having a stroke.” Since he had experienced the same symptoms before, Roark knew he immediately needed to get to the hospital.
“The second time, the thought crossed my mind that I was going through the same thing again, and sure enough, I was,” he said. “As soon as I started feeling the loss of strength in my right side, I knew what it was.” Roark also experienced loss of strength in his right side during his first stroke. He had been right handed; he now also uses his left hand and considers himself ambidextrous.
Scott Shay, MD and director of interventional neuroradiology at Penrose-St. Francis Health Services, removed the blood clot in Roark’s brain via the femoral artery in the groin. “It’s amazing what they can do now, it’s really pretty minimally invasive,” Roark said. “Dr. Shay took good care of me and I know it saved my life.” 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.
Roark also received a stent to minimize the risk of future strokes. He is in the process of rebuilding a Camaro with his son and planning to celebrate another birthday this spring with family and friends. “I still have some weakness on my right side, but I just had a checkup and everything seems good to go,” he said. “I’m just going to keep fighting to be as healthy as I can be and trust that I won’t have to go through this again.”