Beating the Stroke Odds to Carry on Family Tradition

“We have a very busy family and a very busy life, but we have a lot of fun,” said Elizabeth Goldasich, a mom of three boys. Their hectic schedule is often centered on sports: Husband Matt coaches their youngest son on the basketball team at Little Flower Catholic School; their middle son plays football at Sacred Heart-Griffin High School and their oldest son plays football at Illinois Wesleyan University.

But that active lifestyle came to a frightening halt in the winter of 2015. Elizabeth was at a booster club meeting when she developed a sudden, severe headache. When she rose from her chair to greet a friend, her knees buckled and she collapsed to the floor.

Quick, Specialized Stroke Care

She was referred to the Memorial Medical Center Comprehensive Stroke Center from another local hospital and was diagnosed with an aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage—in other words, bleeding in her brain.

While members of the comprehensive stroke team worked to treat Elizabeth’s aneurysm, they noticed blood clots forming around her catheter. This meant that in addition to suffering a hemorrhagic stroke due to the aneurysm, she was also experiencing an ischemic stroke. This common type of stroke occurs when an artery becomes blocked by a blood clot.

Within seven minutes, the clot causing the secondary stroke had been removed. The team was then able to treat the aneurysm that spurred Elizabeth’s initial collapse.

Highest Level of Training

Neurointerventional radiologist Casey Muehle, MD, of Springfield-based Clinical Radiologists, said Memorial’s stroke certification means everyone who works with patients—physicians, nurses, technologists and ancillary staff—has the highest level of training. Memorial is one of only two Illinois hospitals outside the Chicago area to earn that designation.

“Together, we’re dedicated to providing rapid care to stroke patients around the clock,” Muehle said.

That expertise and rapid care were likely factors in saving Elizabeth’s life. Every second counts when treating a subarachnoid hemorrhage. Recent data indicates that between 10 and 15 percent of patients with this condition die before reaching a hospital, and even with emergency care, nearly half of all cases nationwide prove fatal. Survivors often suffer neurological impairment and face a long road to recovery.

Beating the Odds

But with the help of her care team, Elizabeth beat those odds. As she recovered, she had a single goal in sight: being able to carry on a family tradition by attending the annual Sacred Heart-Griffin Family Dance with two of her sons.

That goal helped sustain her as she recuperated from surgery and began rehabilitation. And her determination paid off. Photos from the night of the Family Dance show Elizabeth grinning proudly as she stands between her sons.

“I really focused on making sure that I was going to make it there,” she said. “And I did, and it was a great night.”