Family Helps Woman in Denial of Stroke

Sandy Rice is a 13-year member of ProMedica Toledo Hospital’s facility management department and a lover of bike riding, knitting and gardening. As a wife of 46 years, mother to three and grandmother to five, she enjoys a fulfilling life. But in October 2015, Sandy experienced a life changing incident–she suffered a stroke. She never imagined she would become a stroke survivor in her lifetime.

Subtle Warning Signs
It was an unforgettable Monday. Sandy spent the morning baking and playing games with her special little guy, Jaycee. After she tucked him in for a nap, she noticed a numb feeling in her right hand and limpness in her right arm. However, she didn’t dwell on it and continued with her day.

Next, it was time for a catch-up phone call with her daughter, Mindy, from Austin, Texas. Early on in the conversation, Mindy told her, “Mom, you’re talking funny.” “No, I’m not,” argued Sandy. They actually went back and forth a couple of times before hanging up.

Concerned, Mindy attempted to call 911 all the way from Texas. When she couldn’t get through, she immediately called her father, Donald, for help. Even though Sandy insisted that nothing was wrong, her family could sense an emergent need for medical attention.

Donald called 911 and EMS arrived around 2:30 p.m. to transport Sandy to ProMedica Toledo Hospital. “I feel fine. I don’t know why you are here. I can walk,” Sandy told the paramedics. From her perspective, she was perfectly fine.

“I never felt the stroke come on. I guess that’s what shocked me the most; the signs were not obvious to me,” Sandy shared.

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Mindy with Family

Sandy’s daughter Mindy with her family.

A “Miracle Patient”
After Sandy arrived in the hospital emergency room, diagnostic testing confirmed that she had suffered a stroke, a condition that occurs when blood flow to the brain is disrupted or reduced. She was taken to the neuro-interventional lab where Syed Zaidi, MD, vascular neurologist at ProMedica Toledo Hospital, performed a mechanical thrombectomy. During this procedure, a device is used to physically break up a blood clot in the brain, the cause of an ischemic stroke.

After the procedure, Sandy’s symptoms started to greatly improve. Her MRI results actually showed zero permanent damage, a very rare result. Typically, reduced oxygen to the brain can cause long-term or permanent effects. Dr. Zaidi referred to Sandy as his “miracle patient.”

Sandy was admitted to the hospital for the next four days to be monitored. Because she didn’t suffer any permanent paralysis or brain damage, she was not required to undergo rehab following her discharge from the hospital.

Sandy was not out of the woods just yet. At home, she experienced a few “episodes” of heart palpitations and made an appointment with a heart doctor. During her visit, she was diagnosed with a condition called atrial fibrillation (AFib). Her heart doctor informed her that the blood clots caused by atrial fibrillation may have actually led to her stroke.

“I would have never guessed I had anything like that [atrial fibrillation],” said Sandy.

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Pay Attention to Your Body
Outside of her daughter’s unwavering concern, Sandy attributes much of the reason she is still alive to the staff at ProMedica Toledo Hospital. Had it not been for their quick timing and the caring team of nurses and doctors, her outcomes may not have been so positive.

After learning from her experience, Sandy advises others, “Get help as soon as you notice any change in your body or behavior. Sometimes it takes another person to help you recognize those changes and warning signs.”

Since her stroke and diagnosis, Sandy has a different perspective on life. She doesn’t take anything for granted and seizes every opportunity to visit her grandkids and loved ones. She is grateful for the opportunity to share her story, in hopes that it will help someone else.

If you are having a stroke, immediate medical attention is crucial. As more time passes, increased brain damage is likely to occur. Learn more about the warning signs and risk factors for stroke at promedica.org/stroke.

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