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Stroke survivor gets help F.A.S.T.

Published: May 17, 2017 4:00 AM
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Twenty-seven-year-old Megan Dean of Ashland knew something wasn't right the morning of March 28, but "stroke" never crossed her mind.

It was, however, a top concern of the Emergency Department staff at University Hospitals Samaritan Medical Center. With left-sided weakness, facial droop and speech difficulties, staff took decisive action and administered the clot busting drug TPA.

Once at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center for further evaluation by onsite neurologists, Ashland staff was lauded for their quick action.

"When we got to the hospital in Cleveland, we were told that staff at Ashland had 'done everything right'," Megan's parents, Mark and Amy Dean said. "We truly feel that UH Samaritan's staff made a difference in preserving the quality of life for Megan, and likely even saved her life."

While both an MRI and a CT scan confirmed Megan's stroke, the cause of the stroke has been more elusive. Otherwise healthy and physically fit, some of Megan's numbers came back slightly elevated, but still within the normal range. "I want everyone to know a stroke can happen to anyone, at any age, at any time," Megan said. "I don't recall any symptoms prior to the stroke." After two intense workouts the night before, Megan did notice floaters in her right eye, but didn't give it much thought since she had experienced the floaters a few times in the summer. The next morning, Megan tossed her cellphone aside after responding to some messages, but slid to the floor when she tried to stand.

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"I had no control over my body and I felt like I had cotton in my mouth," Megan recalled. Megan estimates a 30- to 45-minute struggle to maneuver her body back on to her bed to get to her phone, noting she was left with a number of bruises from her struggle.

She had the presence of mind to shift through her options for help, knowing they were limited with her house locked up. Megan settled on a call to her parents, who live 2° hours away in Athens. Her dad called 911 in Athens to notify Ashland authorities. Even her mom, who said it sounded like Megan had "marbles in her mouth," didn't suspect a stroke. She thought Megan was having muscle spasms or had thrown a disc.

Megan is expected to make a complete recovery and encourages others to "know the signs of a stroke, have someone in your corner, don't wait to get help, stay as calm as possible, and above all, trust that the police officers, paramedics, doctors and nurses know what they are doing and will take care of you."

Chris Coffy, UH Samaritan Emergency Department manager, stressed the importance of the team that cared for Megan that fateful day. "EMS played a key role in getting to her fast, performing a rapid stroke assessment and initiating pre-hospital treatment to expedite care. They called in with a 'stroke alert,' giving us time to prepare." Even with the delayed entry to her apartment, Megan was in the Emergency Department in less than 30 minutes from the initial 911 call.

To identify a possible stroke, remember the "F.A.S.T." acronym. FACE: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of their face droop? ARMS: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward? SPEECH: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange? TIME: If you observe any of these signs, call 911 immediately.


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