Not All Strokes Exhibit B.E. F.A.S.T. Symptoms

Patrick Doyle, 68, of Petersburg can count on one hand the times he’s been sick in his life. So when a severe headache started on Sunday, Jan. 17, he took regular doses of Tylenol and powered through his week.

By Friday, he went to the gym to work out and lift weights. Still not feeling 100 percent, he asked the gym owner to keep an eye on him. When he returned home later that morning, he passed out in the garage, falling on his face and splitting open his left eyebrow. Upon waking, he vomited and called his significant other, Betty Bryant, around 2 p.m.

Betty and Patrick’s longtime friend and neighbor, Allen Grosboll, came right over. Although Patrick did not exhibit B.E. F.A.S.T. stroke symptoms (changes in balance, eyes, face, arms and speech), the two finally convinced Patrick it was time to go to Memorial Medical Center in Springfield. He arrived around 5:45 p.m., and Memorial’s Comprehensive Stroke Center team took over. He quickly underwent CT scans without contrast and an MRI.

“I have to thank Allen,” Patrick recalled. “He said ‘this isn’t normal for you – you need to get help.’ I remember getting to the hospital, but after the surgery, I don’t remember anything about the next two weeks.”

Patrick was fortunate to be alive since he had waited so long before seeking medical care. Scans showed he had suffered a hemorrhagic “bleeding” stroke, which is a bleeding aneurysm. He was immediately scheduled for an angiogram with coil embolization of an artery with Springfield Clinic neurosurgeon Hayan Dayoub, MD, the following morning.

After surgery, he spent 16 days in the neurology ICU before being moved to the neurology unit for a few days. He had a neurointerventionalist, a neurologist and the stroke team following his progress. Once he arrived on the rehabilitation floor, he was ready to start working hard.

“I was ready for rehab,” Patrick said. “I told the rehab people ‘have fun staying up with me!’” I don’t like to be down. I’ve worked outside all my life. I like to move. I wasn’t a good patient. I know that. The cognitive therapy was almost fun. We laughed. We talked. I’d ask questions, make suggestions. I was ready to get on with it!”

The list of caregivers who led him to recovery is highlighted by a stellar interdisciplinary stroke team of physicians, nurses and therapists who helped Patrick and Betty better understand Patrick’s condition and recovery process. One of the most important lessons they imparted was “time is brain” – the longer you delay going to a hospital when experiencing stroke-like symptoms, the more at risk your brain is for lasting damage.

Today, Patrick has returned to a more normal routine. He’s mowed the lawn, worked with a trainer at the gym lifting weights, even played a round of golf. He’s grilling hamburgers and helping with the laundry.

“All of his specialists are absolutely thrilled,” Betty said. “People in the community cannot believe what they see because they knew he was in bad shape. He is blessed and a success story for sure!”

Patrick remembers watching Memorial’s building expansions over the years. He’s grateful for the technological excellence and skilled caregivers inside those buildings – especially the highly trained physicians in neurology, neurosurgery, diagnostic and interventional neuroradiology, neuro critical care and emergency medicine plus the nurses with unique and ongoing stroke training and the therapists who helped him return to a normal lifestyle.

Mainly he’s glad for more time with friends and family who have stood by him throughout this health journey.

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Memorial Health System includes two hospitals with earned certifications in stroke care from The Joint Commission. Memorial Medical Center is a Comprehensive Stroke Center while Decatur Memorial Hospital is a Primary Stroke Center.

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