“You may think you have time, but you can’t afford to delay calling 9-1-1.”
Rebecca Parr of Dennison is not giving idle advice. She credits the quick action of her family to call for help and the care provided at the Union Hospital Emergency Center for surviving a potentially devastating stroke. Now, less than four months later she is near a full recovery and hard at work at the family’s tax and accounting firm in Uhrichsville.
Her story began the day before Thanksgiving Day in 2015. As she was preparing for the holiday celebration she noticed an “odd feeling” in her face. Her sister-in-law commented about the look on her face. Soon, Rebecca had trouble speaking and lost strength on her right side. Alarmed by the symptoms, her husband Ron called 9-1-1 and within minutes Rebecca was on her way to the Union Hospital Emergency Center.
By the time she arrived the stroke had progressed. Rebecca could not speak and was paralyzed on her left side. Notified in advance by the Smith Ambulance crew enroute to the hospital, Emergency physician Dr. Jeff Cameron led the team implementing the stroke treatment protocol.
“The ER staff was ready and prepared for Becky when we arrived at the hospital,” Ron said. “They were quick, efficient, everybody knew exactly what to do. But at the same time they were calm and comforting to me and other family members.”
A CT scan of the brain was made and sent electronically to Cerebrovascular Center at the Cleveland Clinic. The Internet link to the stroke specialist physician at the Clinic was established and, using the telemedicine equipment in the ER, the Clinic doctor worked with the Union Hospital staff to evaluate Rebecca’s condition.
Dr. Cameron made the recommendation to Ron to approve use of tissue plasminogen activator, better known as tPA or the “clotbuster” drug.
“Dr. Cameron warned us there was no guarantee the tPA would help Becky and he explained there were risks,” Ron said. “Her father and I agreed that if it could help, we wanted her to have the tPA.”
While Rebecca was being diagnosed and treated at Union Hospital, the helicopter was called to transport her to the Cleveland Clinic.
“Within the first 20 minutes after receiving the tPA, I noticed my face was drooping less and I started to get some feeling and movement back,” she said. “I even managed to wave to the family as I was going to the helicopter to let them know I’d be OK.”
And OK, she certainly is. Her doctors at the Cleveland Clinic were amazed by her rapid improvement and she was ready to come home after just a few days. Since then she’s had therapy at the Union Hospital Healthplex Rehabilitation Center and today notices only a few lingering minor speech and memory glitches from the stroke less than four months ago.
Now Rebecca and Ron Parr are eager to spread the word about the importance of recognizing stroke symptoms and then immediate treatment at an Emergency Center.
“We hope everybody learns about FAST. “F” is for Face; look for changes like a tilted or drooping smile. “A” is for Arms; does one arm fall when raised to the side. “S” is for Speech; does speech sound slurred or different. The “T” is for Treatment. If you notice these stroke symptoms then seek immediate treatment at a hospital,” she said.
When talking with Rebecca today she often says “I’m very blessed” by the care she received and the recovery she’s made. “Dr. Cameron and the Union Hospital staff were amazing how they cared for me and my family. Dr. Cameron even called up to the Clinic to see how I was doing.”
But the greatest blessing in this story was the fast action taken by her family to get Rebecca the treatment she needed to stop the stroke and reverse its effects before they became more devastating and irreversible.