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Patrick J.


I'm not a Stroke candidate

I'm a long distance runner, vegetarian and very fit Air Force Reserve Colonel.  A stroke was the last thing anyone thought could happen to me

I'm not a stroke candidate. I'm a long distance runner and a vegetarian. My blood pressure and cholesterol are normal. I'm fit and healthy and I can prove it. In January of this year I had a complete cardiac work up required by the Air Force Reserve every three years for me because I had a heart valve repair in 2009. I passed with flying colors. At my February drill weekend I took the Air Force Fitness test and scored a 93 which is pretty good.

Then I had a stroke.

Just three days after my fitness test I suffered a severe cardiac arrhythmia related stroke in the middle of the night. I was completely paralyzed on my left side, my speech was slurred and I had a facial droop. Fortunately for me I had a few things in my favor. I knew the exact time because it happened as I was lying back down after a middle of the night bathroom trip. My wife, Kathie a nurse, woke up to my distress, recognized the signs of a stroke (even though "I'm not a stroke candidate") and called 911 immediately. My son, also a nurse, who happened to be visiting, took one look and asked me to smile. ("You failed miserably, Dad"). EVAC paramedics picked me up, literally, and got me to Florida Memorial in just minutes. After a brain scan revealed a clot in my brain it was determined I was a candidate for the clot busting drug called tPA.

I arrived to the ED with a very high stroke score of 16. A few hours later, I entered the Intensive Care Unit with a stroke score of 2. What accounted for such fast decline in the severity of my stroke? My family, EVAC and Florida Memorial put FAST into action. I stayed in the hospital for 4 days and returned to work just six days after the stroke. I had a pacemaker implanted in April. All this has ended my military career but not my Flagler County Health Department career. I'm healthy now and will be running again soon.


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