Kincaid resident David Amos, 57, hadn’t set foot in a doctor’s office in 32 years. The day of his stroke started normally – until he went to step out of his work truck at a dry wall finishing job in Edinburg.
As he stood to shut the door to the truck, one eye looked out normally, while the other looked straight up. As he put his hand over to calm his eye, his lips and tongue went numb. He laid his head down on the seat, and the sensations let up slightly.
After a few minutes, he headed into the house to set up for the job, but as he returned to the truck, he lost his balance and started to fall. Fortunately, his co-worker grabbed him, eased him into the passenger side of the truck and drove David home.
David began vomiting, and Connie, his wife of 36 years, came out to the driveway. With one look at David, she had no doubt about what was happening and immediately took charge.
“I just knew,” she said. “I thought he was having a stroke, and I knew we couldn’t make it to Springfield. I needed someone to get him stable. So I sped us to the emergency department at Taylorville Memorial Hospital (TMH).”
The ED team immediately assessed the situation using B.E.F.A.S.T. (balance, eyes, face, arm, speech, time). Certified in 2014 as an Emergent Stroke Ready Hospital by the Illinois Department of Health, TMH had the process and technology in place to save David’s life.
Kristy Cesaretti, RN, TMH emergency department nurse manager, noted that David’s double vision and balance issues were key factors in determining that he had suffered a stroke. In fact, he had three small clots on his brain stem.
“The vision issues were the first clue,” Cesaretti said. “A stat stroke was called, and the doctor was with him within five minutes. He qualified on the NIH stroke scale and was sent immediately to get a CT scan, which went to the top of the radiologist’s priority list. When no brain bleed was determined, tPA became an option.”
tPA is a clot-busting drug that restores blood flow by dissolving the clot(s). The team at TMH worked with Sajjad Mueed, MD, at Memorial Medical Center’s Comprehensive Stroke Center to gain approval to give David the tPA.
David had arrived at TMH at 9:37 a.m.; he received the tPA treatment at 10:34 a.m.; and departed for MMC at 10:54 a.m. Before he was even halfway to Springfield, David opened his eyes. They both looked forward normally, and his tongue and lips stopped tingling.
He spent a couple of days recovering at MMC under the care of the Comprehensive Stroke Center, but many of his deficits had been eliminated before he even arrived.
Today, he is nearly 100 percent recovered and back to running the family drywall finishing business, tinkering with his trucks, keeping his yard in pristine shape, chasing the family’s chocolate lab puppy and watching his grandkids.
Through the course of treatment for the stroke, he is all caught up on his 32 years of missed doctor visits. He was diagnosed with diabetes, which he is tackling, and he feels great.
“Life has changed in many good ways,” David said. “My blood pressure and sugar are under control. I’m on a 70-carb diet. Doc checked my eyes, and I can see a lot better now with my glasses. I have a good energy level especially compared to before.”
His wife Connie has no regrets about her decision to speed into Taylorville that morning of the stroke.
“I know it would have been a different outcome if we had tried to get him all the way to Springfield,” she said. “TMH is great. They saved my husband’s life, and I will always be grateful.”