No one is ever prepared for a stroke, especially when you don’t present any of the classic stroke symptoms.
Mike and Karen Padilla are familiar with the medical field, both are local healthcare workers, but they never thought they’d find themselves in this type of emergency situation.
Mike said, “I was at work, and I was finishing a patient, and I was trying to connect a couple little connectors, and I was looking down and I couldn’t. I knew what I had to do, but I couldn’t figure out how to do it… And then I fell backwards, and hit the wall. And like, I need some help. And then everybody showed up.”
Mike was having a stroke, but he didn’t realize it at first.
Mike’s wife Karen added, “He had no facial drooping, everything was strong. He was making sense. He had made his workmates not call for help, because he felt, ‘I’m fine, I’m fine, I’m, I don’t need further care’.”
Karen said when she picked him up from work he didn’t have any apparent signs of stroke, but wasn’t quite acting like himself a few hours later.
“On the way home, he’s started using words that he never uses. They were totally out of context, so I asked him what his name was. He told me my name, I asked him again. He had to think about it and force it, I asked him when his birthday was, couldn’t tell me that either,” Karen continued.
That’s when Karen knew somehting was terribly wrong and she rushed him to a local hospital.
Dr. Amir Khan is an Endovascular Neurologist & Co-Director of the Stroke Program at Community Regional Medical Center said, “That’s what you want to do, you want to act rapidly at that point, you want to get to emergency services.”
At the first hospital, Mike’s stroke was diagnosed but he needed to be transferred to Community Regional for a higher level of care. There, Dr. Khan awaited Mike’s arrival to remove the clot in his brain. The stroke program at Community Regional is the Valley’s first certified primary stroke center.
“We’ll commonly be called by outside, hospitals that don’t offer the endovascular treatment for stroke which is now become a very vital aspect of stroke treatment because that’s really the most effective way to open large arteries that are blocked in the brain that are causing stroke,” said Dr. Khan.
Dr. Khan explains, Mike had a blood clot in one of the arteries in his brain that was causing the stroke. He performed a thrombectomy to remove the clot.
He continued, “I typically enter the artery in the leg and that artery almost serves as an onramp to the rest of the arterial system in the body, so then I use that onramp to then navigate some equipment up into the arteries that supply blood to the brain, and then from there we can go in with smaller equipment and actually navigate to the clot itself to the clot that’s actually blocking the artery and we have a variety of ways to remove that clot.”
Mike’s procedure was successful, but he remained in the hospital for a week to undergo physical and occupational therapy.
Mike said, “They worked on cognitive skills, endurance and then, speech therapy, doing puzzles, following, you know, train of thought kind of things, because they knew what I did for a living and what I have to be able to do when I go back, so they kind of worked on problem solving skills.”
Karen, a registered nurse, learned how to take care of her new patient, her husband, because his journey to recovery was just beginning.
“We did a lot of walking… and it was the balance. It was thinking ahead as to where we’re going. Mike still had a little bit of weakness on the left side, so it’s like he had to kind of think, and listen for that and work on that,” Karen commented.
Dr. Khan added, “Obviously we talk about the patient and the fact that stroke could be lethal the fact that stroke could be disabling to the patient, but of course it has a big effect on their loved ones.”
Dr. Khan said Mike’s prognosis is positive and having that life-saving procedure close to home made the difference.
“I try to advise patients and advise people who are at risk of stroke which is really a lot more people than we think, that if you’re having symptoms even if they get better you should still go seek emergency attention,” ended Dr. Khan.
The Padilla’s said they are grateful they were able to receive quick and excellent care right here in the Valley, care that likely saved Mike’s life.
Karen concluded, “Listen to things, listen to your body, and if there’s a problem, you know, try to recognize it. Even as healthcare professionals, we denied it. We looked at it and we’re like no, that can’t be, but it was! We were lucky, very lucky, but you need to listen to your body, and if it’s there you need to go somewhere and seek the help.”