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Richard F.


My Brain Stem Stroke

I'm 42, a police officer and a stroke survivor. I am interested in sharing my story. On the morning of Friday June 14, 2013 I awoke at 6:30 to get ready to drive my boys, Brandon 3rd grade & Brett 2nd grade; to school at Rev. Brown School in Sparta, NJ. I realized I had a headache in the base of my head where it meets my neck in the back. I shrugged it off as I had in the past and dressed and prepared a pot of coffee. As I filled the coffee with water over the sink my balance felt off & I felt tingling under my eyes on my face. I stepped back and went down to one knee. My wife asked if I was "joking around" and I replied that I wasn't. I walked 7-10 steps into our living room and again guided myself to my knee first, then to a lying position on my back. My wife Marilyn asked if she should call 911 and I said No, being a police officer I thought I could handle what was about to occur. Marilyn called anyway as I began to experience a seizure-eye rolls, slurring speech, etc. The New Jersey State Police, St. Clare's paramedics and Allamuchy ambulance arrived at my house. The first responders were outstanding and quickly diagnosed my condition as a stroke. Apparently, I went into "locked-in" syndrome and only my eyes we're working. I was moved by ambulance to a landing zone and loaded into a Care One helicopter. As I was loaded in, I'm told my breathing rate declined significantly and during the 7 minute flight to Morristown Memorial Hospital I was intibated. The MMH and Dr. Ronald Zbenitez located a blood clot in my brain stem and Dr. Benitez performed the MERCI procedure on me. They saved my life and I'm forever greatful. In the days that followed I went from ICU to a regular hospital bed and off to an in patient rehab facility. Atlantic Rehabilitation Institute (ARI). It's been a long Summer, but I'm back to work fighting everyday.

Rich Falotico


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