A Stroke of Fortune
Leona Jean Rose, a 75-year-old mother of five, did her homework when doctors told her she was at risk of developing a stroke. “I familiarized myself with the symptoms of a stroke,” she says, “so that I would recognize them.”
She also had read about the clot-busting drug tPA, which can help people who are having a stroke. One evening in February 2007, while Leona was cooking supper, her homework paid off.
“All of a sudden, I couldn’t move my arms,” she remembers. “I knew right away that it was a stroke. So I walked into the living room to tell my husband to call 9-1-1,” she says. “But he couldn’t understand me.”
Knowing that something was seriously wrong, her husband, Nick, dialed 9-1-1, described his wife’s condition, told the operator that he thought she was having a stroke, and asked for an ambulance. It’s important to treat the symptoms of a stroke as an emergency, even if they seem to go away.
“My speech seemed to come and go,” Leona remembers. “By the time I got to the emergency room, I couldn’t do much of anything.”
Before administering the clotbusting drug, the stroke team explained the drug’s action and possible risks to Nick and his five children. The doctors also explained
that the drug had to be given within a three-hour window of opportunity, so a decision had to be made quickly.
The family took a few minutes to debate whether or not they should consent to this therapy. Leona later told her husband that, while she wasn’t able to communicate at the time, she could hear the discussion part of the time, and was hoping that they would make the right decision to give her the shot.
Making that decision, Leona’s husband gave his consent, and the Lakeland stroke team administered the tPA—with only about 15 minutes to spare.
“Within just a short time—maybe 15 or 30 minutes—she began to come around,” Nick remembers. “By the next day, she still couldn’t speak very much, but she could move everything. Her speech was the last thing to come back, by about the second or third day.”
“I’m so thankful to my husband, and to all the doctors and other people who took care of me,” says Leona. “I’m glad I live here in St. Joseph and am under the care of the great heart team we have here.”