New Lenox, Illinois (NED).— Denise Dugan remembers the morning clearly.
“July 14. It was about 6:30 a.m. I was half asleep, but I heard my husband John go the bathroom. When he came back to bed, I could feel him quivering on his left side.”
Denise, who served as an ICU nurse at Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox as part of her 40-year-career before retiring two years ago, knew what to do.
“I called his name and told him to open his eyes. He said, ‘I am awake,’ but he didn’t open his eyes. I opened them for him and put my finger in his left hand and told him to squeeze it. When he squeezed my empty right hand instead, I called the ambulance.”
Once at Silver Cross, the Emergency Department team went into action, Denise said. “As soon as the paramedics got him stable in the ambulance, they let the E.R. know he was coming. In the case of a stroke, the first hour or two are critical to saving the patient and minimizing any permanent damage.
“Everyone in the department drops everything, and they wait for the patient.”
At Silver Cross, emergency personnel immediately administered tissue plasminogen activator, or TPA, a powerful blood thinner used for emergency stroke treatment.
Diagnosing and Treating Stroke
The Interventional Radiology team gave John a CAT scan and determined there was a blood clot near the right cerebral artery, Denise said. They also saw he had a pacemaker that was implanted a month before due to a low heart rate from malfunctioning electrical impulses.
Dr. Michael Hurley, board-certified in Diagnostic Radiology and Neuroradiology, arrived and got to work on a thrombectomy, a minimally invasive surgery that removes a blood clot from an artery. He inserted a catheter through an artery up to the artery in the brain that’s blocked.
A tiny wire mesh tube is used to open and trap the blood clot, which allows the doctor to remove it.
Denise said she could tell the surgery was successful as they were wheeling John to his ICU room. He was fully responsive, she said, and he was able to move his left arm, which was totally flaccid before the surgery.
John said he recalls the day, mostly.
“When I got back from the bathroom, I remember feeling like I had a cramp in my left leg, but it didn’t feel like a regular cramp. And I remember Denise trying to wake me up. When she had a hard time, that got her going.”
John said he remembers nothing more until they were wheeling him out of recovery.
The Road to Recovery
The first 24 to 48 hours after surgery are critical, Denise said. But soon, it was apparent John was on the mend and ready for inpatient physical therapy at the award-winning Shirley Ryan AbilityLab at Silver Cross. In fact, he celebrated his 64th birthday at Silver Cross.
“Not everything came back right away,” John said. “And I still have work to do with my left arm, but the therapists are great.
“Although they did try to mess with me on purpose. I would be doing a workout, and she would ask me to name Rock and Roll bands from the ‘70s, to make sure my mind and body were working at the same time.”
Denise said John and the therapists continue to work on an issue with recognition on his left side. “He can see fine, but he will notice something on his left side only if you point it out.”
Still, Denise is thrilled how little effect the stroke had on her husband, thanks to the quick work by Dr. Hurley and his staff, and the therapists at Silver Cross.
“They were wonderful,” she said. “Since he’s been home, John already has rewired a smoke detector in our house and is fixing a screen on one of our doors.”
“And she’s got more for me to do on her list,” said John, all too happy to accommodate.
“Being a nurse, she knew what to do right away. Then Dr. Hurley and the staff at Silver Cross took over and fixed me up. I am grateful.”
Silver Cross Hospital is an independent, not-for-profit healthcare provider serving Will County and southwest suburban communities since 1895. Silver Cross has been recognized as a Fortune/Merative 100 Top Hospitals® National Award winner 10 times and honored with an “A” Hospital Safety Grade by The Leapfrog Group. With over 4,500 employees, physicians and volunteers, Silver Cross operates a 348-bed acute care hospital – including Will County’s first and only Level 3 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit – and 12 satellite facilities providing outpatient services and physician offices. Silver Cross opened a state-of-the-art replacement hospital in 2012 at I-355 and Route 6 in New Lenox. In 2021, Silver Cross provided over $42 million in charity care and other community benefits. To learn more about Silver Cross Hospital or a referral to a physician on staff, visit www.silvercross.org. Physicians on Silver Cross Hospital’s Medical Staff have expertise in their areas of practice to meet the needs of patients seeking their care. These physicians are independent practitioners on the Medical Staff and are not the agents or employees of Silver Cross Hospital. They treat patients based upon their independent medical judgment and they bill patients separately for their services.
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