SPECIAL REPORT: Life interrupted, Rick's stroke - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

SPECIAL REPORT: Life interrupted, Rick's stroke

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On Sunday morning November 15th, 2015 I suffered an Ischemic stroke while at my fiancé's house in Coralville. The stroke occurred while I was asleep but as I look back there were warning signs the occurred nearly two days before it happened.  I had been having issues for a long time with high blood pressure. On Friday night November 13th, I got dizzy and had vision issues and was sent home from work. Instead of going to emergency I went home and went to bed. In retrospect I might have been better served getting medical care on that Friday night.

On Saturday November 14, 2015 I covered the Iowa vs Minnesota night game at Kinnick Stadium. Following the game I went to stay at my fiancé's house in Coralville. I went to sleep at 2:30 am.  When I woke up at 6:10 am I had absolutely no feeling on the right side of my body. I had no feeling in my right arm or right leg. I was screaming hysterically and I woke up my fiancée who immediately called an ambulance.  I was taken to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics where it confirmed after testing that I had suffered and ischemic stroke.

I spent two days in the Neurology Stroke Clinic which is the most comprehensive stroke unite in the state of Iowa. I was fortunate in that my stroke was considered relatively mild. More severe strokes involve the destruction of brain cells which can lead to more debilitating physical and mental impairment.

My stroke left me with physical weakness, loss of motor skills, cognitive and vision issues. But with Physical and Occupational therapy I was expected to make a full recovery.

Johnson County Emergency Dispatch: "Johnson County 911 can I have the address of your emergency?"

My fiance Jennifer's 9-1-1 call at the time of my stroke came into the Johnson County Emergency Dispatch and was handled by nine year veteran dispatcher Melissa Osborn.

Two weeks before my stroke Johnson County had just upgraded its system from cards to computers to allow dispatchers to quickly and appropriately respond to each caller.

As soon as Melissa heard I could be having a stroke..she knew exactly what to ask..

JCED "We are going to do a quick test for the paramedics...Can you ask him to smile?

Jennifer: "Can you smile?...Honey look at me can you smile? Look at me and do it."

Melissa, "Ask him to say... the early bird catches the worm..."

Jennifer, "Say the Early bird catches the work...Can you say the early bird catches the worm?"

Rick, "The Early bird catches the worm..."

Osborn says the upgraded system saves time and lives.

Melissa, "It helps test different parts of the body--if the patient is able to follow commands and that would show us if your speech is affected which can help the doctor determine which part of the brain is having the stroke..."

I recently returned to the University of Iowa Comprehensive Stroke Center. Iowa is a leader in research for the prevention, treatment and recovery from stroke.

FDA approved Clot busting medications or TPA's can be administered to patients during a 4 1/2 hour window of having a stroke. . University of Iowa Neurologist Dr. Enrique Leira says it wasn't long ago that little hope was given to victims for a full recovery.

Dr. Enrique Leira "The last two decades we went from an observation type of approach to really an explosion of treatments and being a treatable emergency. We can make a real difference and save patients from disability..."

Because my stroke occurred while I was asleep I did not qualify for any of the clot busting medications. Nor did I need surgery.

But I had suffered loss of strength, coordination, sight in my right eye and some memory. That meant I needed to undergo rehab.

Coincidentally, both of my physical Therapists ---Rachel Pins and Molly Comacho are graduates of Wartburg College.

I happened to be the first stroke patient Rachel Pins would treat as she began her career as an occupational therapist at the University of Iowa.

Rachel Pins "I reviewed those notes because it had been so long and we really covered the gamut..we worked on your sensation your fine motor, your grip your pinch your vision and coping too...you were good...you always came..""

I loved Rachel's philosophy in helping patients recover from a major health setback.

Rachel Pins ""Occupational therapy practitioners ask what matters to you not what is the matter with you.."

At Performance Therapies, Physical Therapist, Molly Comacho believes it is important to remain positive when working with clients recovering from something as traumatic as a stroke.

Molly Comacho/PT Performance Therapies

..." It can be hard working with people when they are at their lowest point or having a real hard time but it is rewarding to see people get back to their job..hobbies or just living life and enjoying life...

Both Molly and Rachel played significant roles in my recovery... and helping me reach the goal of returning to a sense of normalcy.

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