Bronson made sure all of the bases were covered so I could just focus on my mom.
My mother, Mary, has always gone to Bronson for everything—from her primary care doctor, Luis Ortiz, MD, to more specialized care. So the day that she had a stroke, we knew we needed to go to Bronson.
I live with my mom—I moved back to Michigan and in with her after my dad passed away in 2010. She’s 83 but she has always been very healthy and independent. Each morning we wake up and meet in the kitchen for coffee. At 7:40 a.m., she wasn’t in the kitchen, so I went to look for her in her bedroom. She was sitting on her floor, leaning against her bed and seemed a little out of it. She said, with a slight slur, that she had fallen but was fine. My father had a few small strokes so I knew what to look for: drooping face, weakness in the arms and slurred speech. I helped her to the living room, did an assessment of her symptoms and told her that I was worried and we should go to the emergency room. She refused to go to the hospital until after she had her coffee because she thought she was fine. Since she seemed to be rapidly recovering, I gave her an aspirin and her morning coffee. For the next ten minutes, the symptoms went away. Then they started again. I’d notice a slight slur, then it would stop. She had a little trouble drinking her coffee, then she’d be okay. She would be talking to me, then suddenly seem out of it. I called the ambulance and we went to the emergency room at Bronson. Of course, her symptoms again went away. Both the paramedics and doctors did thorough assessments and she seemed fine to everyone.
Around 9:40 a.m., I arrived in her (emergency) room at Bronson and noticed her slurring words. I went to the doctor and explained she’d had two previous incidents at home and was just coming out of one now. They immediately came to the room where she was mostly back to normal but they did see some slight changes. Minutes later, it happened again. This time, the doctors saw it and everything suddenly started to move fast. They rushed her blood work and CT scan. They discovered that she had atrial fibrillation (a-fib) and suspected that it may have caused the problem: she was having and had been having a stroke all along.
A whole team of people, led by Dr. Dean Kindler, evaluated my mom. They were excellent, thorough, professional as well as kind and patient. They gave my mom tPA and moved her to the neurocritical care unit. At first they thought it was working, but ultimately Dr. Andrew Xavier needed to do a thrombectomy to remove the clot from her brain. By the next day, she was already so much better and began working with physical and occupational therapists. After a few days, we moved to the neurovascular unit at Bronson then to inpatient rehabilitation.
Jamie Warner, our nurse navigator, was just wonderful. I would not have been able to arrange rehabilitation, make all of those follow up appointments or get her new meds. I would have collapsed. Jamie helped with all of that. She was there for everything we needed. It was such a relief. She made sure all of the bases were covered so I could just focus on my mom. Even now, about six weeks later, she continues to help, support and assist with any concerns that come up.
We were so compelled to tell everyone how much we appreciated them and how grateful we are for everything they did for us–especially for their care, gentleness, humor and skill. Our words made them speechless. We wish they could hear how amazing they are more often. Everyone we dealt with at Bronson was so patient, thoughtful and generous from the doctors, nurses (Dana and Andy!) and therapists (like Matt), to the social workers, chaplains, volunteers and cashiers in the SkyCourt (and everyone in between).
My mother has a long road ahead, particularly with speech, but not many people can even tell that she’s had a stroke and that is all thanks to the amazing team at Bronson.
Be sure to know the signs and symptoms of a stroke so you can act quickly if something like this happens to one of your loved ones. No one thought this would happen to my mom. I’m glad I didn’t listen to her continued protests not to go to the hospital because she would certainly not have recovered the way she did. Now she tells me that she was in no shape to have objected. She was just going with the routine and wanting to feel safe at home even though she knew something was wrong. Plus she didn’t want to bother me! Her brain was just not working right in so many ways. She says she was wrong and I was right–my mom is never wrong in our family…except this time. No matter what your loved one says, you need to act on their behalf…they’ll love you for your decision afterwards.