On the Sunday following Thanksgiving 2011, Susan Huff was talking with a neighbor who became alarmed at noticing Huff’s face drooping while also starting to slur her words.
“A couple weeks before that I had fallen and hit my head pretty hard, nearly passing out” Huff said. “I had been experiencing really bad headaches since, and my neighbor came by to check up on me.”
Huff was rushed to the hospital where doctors discovered a blood clot was preventing blood from reaching her brain, otherwise known as an ischemic stroke. Nearly 87 percent of all strokes fall under ischemic strokes.
“I guess I had a lot of brain swelling. I really don’t remember much because I was pretty out of it at the hospital,” Huff said. “At one point the neurologist told my son I might not make it.”
After about a week in the hospital, Huff was discharged and referred to outpatient rehabilitation.
“I couldn’t walk at all,” she said. “The stroke was on the right side of my brain, so it completely affected the left side of my body. I can walk with a cane now, but still have not recovered the use of my left arm and hand.”
Because each side of the brain controls the opposite side of the body, a stroke can result in neurological complications on the side of the body it affects. A stroke occurring in the brain's right side can produce any or all of these conditions: paralysis on the left side of the body, vision problems, quick, inquisitive behavioral style, and memory loss.
The continuum of care does not end when a stroke patient is discharged and Penrose-St. Francis recognizes the significance of extending care beyond the confines of the hospital. “Living Successfully After Stroke,” a full-day seminar to teach stroke survivors how to manage life efficiently and safely, was recently hosted at Penrose Hospital.
Driving after a stroke, understanding what causes uncontrollable emotional displays and how to manage them, learning how to deal with bowel and bladder control issues and navigating travel and leisure activity challenges were just a few of the topics covered at the stroke seminar.
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.
“The seminar through Penrose was excellent,” Huff said. “I learned a lot and think anyone who has suffered a stroke could really benefit from all of the information available.”
Minutes can save vital brain function if someone is having a stroke. The range and severity of stroke symptoms vary considerably, but there are common characteristic and warning signs to look out for:
“I owe my neighbor my life,” Huff said. “If she hadn’t come to check up on me and knew the signs of a stroke, I probably wouldn’t be here today.”