Nicole’s Stroke Story – The Nebraska Medical Center


I had taken my son to a soccer game and as
I was sitting there, I just kind of leaned forward and I had my arms on my knees and
I noticed my whole left arm went completely numb. And as we were leaving, we were in the
parking lot and I just collapsed. I don’t remember a whole lot at that point. I just
remember I had no feeling or movement on my entire left side. I was home by myself with the two youngest
kids and I went to the ER in Norfolk and remember walking into the ER and was scary. She was
laying on the gurney and she was completely paralyzed on her left side, 100 percent couldn’t
move, couldn’t feel anything; she was had facial droop and just bad. You just don’t
expect to see your wife, who’s 32, having a stroke in the ER. She was in a unique situation because she
had just delivered a baby. So, because of her post-partum state, there was an issue
of whether she could be treated like other people are treated. I think what happened
back home was that they recognized, “She’s having a stroke and she’s not going to be
a candidate for the usual sorts of therapies”. So we have to figure out, is she going to
be a candidate for more advanced therapies that aren’t widely disseminated. You can’t
just get the drug and give something else; you’re going to have to move her and that
would the choice was then to move her to the Med Center so that we could see if she would
be a candidate for the alternative therapy. Are you going to do a procedure where you’re
going to go through and go up into the arteries and try and open them? Or is that not in her
best interest? Will that make the problem worse? That’s the critical decision-making
issue. Where we start getting access into the groin and very similar to somebody having
a cardiac catheterization who’s having a heart attack. And then what you do is inject
dye into the carotid arteries and the veritbral arteries and what you’re trying to do at
that point in time is simply figure out the road map; what’s blocked, what’s not blocked,
how is the brain being fed with blood, which parts aren’t getting blood? What we initially
did was went up and we got through, we put some medication TPA into the blood vessel
to have that start working to break down the blood clot that had gone up into the blood
vessels of the brain. Then we went back down into the blood vessel of the neck where the
blood vessel was blocked. And we worked on opening that up. What you’re shooting for
is good enough to either limit the size of the stroke or eliminating the stroke altogether. She was already in surgery by the time we
got here; waited in the waiting room with some family and it was just terrifying. I
went to school here so I kind of know this is the place to be. Once we figured out what was happening, we
started the anesthesia part of it; getting the blood pressure up, we got through the
blockage. We gave the littic medication, which helps open up the blood vessel of the brain
and then we started working on the neck. And once we have that done, the procedure’s
done. So then the next day, you can see that she’s starting to move her arm and you get
another picture and you can see what size of her stroke. And the size of her stroke
was small, something that’s pretty recoverable. And that’s the way it’s actually worked
out; she basically has no deficit. I remember walking into the room and she was
still intubated and she was moving her left side because she was agitated because she
was intubated. Amazing to see that after what we had been through. Because I knew at that
point that she was probably going to be okay. We have worked since 2003 toward building
the expertise, training the organization to bring consistency to the care of patients
with stroke. The gold-plus award that the American heart association has awarded to
us is certainly a big signature essentially to the care that we provide. What does it
mean? It means that somebody else from the outside is able to not only measure what we
do, but measure it and compare it to other centers around the country. It’s telling
us that, “You are doing a great job at keeping the level of care to where the standards are
today based on the latest evidence, the latest research.” In order to coordinate all of
these efforts and making sure that it happens is, by itself, a prowess that we should all
be very proud of. It’s pretty amazing. It took a whole team approach and that’s
how it is in medicine; it’s not just one person that saves the day, it’s always everybody
from the receptionist to the nurse to the doctor to the physical therapist. It’s a
team approach and that was really evident on Nicole’s case where not even the same
team at the same hospital, it’s just the healthcare community really came together.
That really was outstanding. I’m fully functioning like I was before;
I have very minor deficits that most people wouldn’t notice and don’t bother me one
bit. The nurses were amazing. With everything with my home life and all of that was going
on at the time they really provided that physical and emotional support that I desperately needed
at that time. And words can’t express my gratitude and appreciation, not just for Dr.
Thorell, but for all of the nursing staff and other staff. The therapists kept me going
every day. It has been the most positive experience I’ve had with a hospital. My family and
I will forever be grateful for the care we received here. It was life-changing. If it wasn’t for Dr. Thorell and the nursing
staff and everybody, my kids would not have the mother that they have. It’s amazing.

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