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A stroke of good luck

Will Shen
Posted on: 12/28/2021

“It didn’t hurt so I didn’t think there was a problem.”

That’s what Will Shen thought when the room suddenly went wavy. Will and his wife were eating lunch in their kitchen when his vision did something funny. He got up to walk to their living room and stumbled, unable to stand. His wife immediately knew something was off. Will was athletic, strong, and just 40 years old. As she looked into his face, she noticed the left side was drooping. She suspected a stroke but Will wasn’t convinced.

“I would have been perfectly satisfied to sit on our sofa and wait it out,” he said. “Where would I be if we had waited? I could have died there.”

Will struggled to make it to the couple’s car, but from there, the closest hospital was just minutes away. What they didn’t know is that their local hospital, HCA’s StoneSprings Hospital Center in Dulles, Virginia, has advanced certification as a Primary Stroke Center. The moment they arrived at the Emergency Department, Will’s care began.

Though he was unconscious for much of the excitement, Will’s condition required calling a Neuro Code. Like a busy NASCAR pit stop, a multidisciplinary team responds to the patient’s bedside. Each team member has a unique role to quickly assess the patient and gather information. The approach accelerates care, which is critical during a stroke where every minute that passes costs the patient 1.9 million neurons.

To further speed things along, StoneSprings uses telemedicine for an immediate neurology consult to determine if the patient is indeed having a stroke, rather than waiting for a neurologist to arrive in person.

In Will’s case, the ED physician and neurologist quickly determined Will was a candidate for a clot-busting medication that, when administered, dissolved the clot in Will’s brain to restore blood flow. The streamlined process in the ER and a quick-thinking team were the key to his good outcome.  

Will awoke in the ICU, surprised to learn he had suffered a stroke. “I thought strokes only happened to older people.”

In fact, anyone can have a stroke at any age but certain factors can increase your risk for stroke, including high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes or a family history of stroke.

Will didn’t think he was at any risk for a stroke but subsequent tests during his stay revealed that he had a 10 mm hole in his heart, which doctors were able to repair.

“Everyone I had contact with at StoneSprings was sincerely caring. I knew I was getting great care and I felt safe there.”

Today, Will has resumed exercising and has no lasting effects from his stroke.

“I’ve joined stroke survivor groups and read other people’s stroke stories, and I realize how lucky I am,” said Will. “What made the difference for me was my wife immediately suspecting a stroke, and StoneSprings providing such fast treatment.”

Know the signs of a stroke:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body.
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or difficulty understanding speech.
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance, or lack of coordination.
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause.

If you have any of these signs, or see e else experiencing them, call 9-1-1 right away.

Will Shen
Posted on: 12/28/2021

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