One Patient’s Stroke Month Story of Survival

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When retired industrial electrician Allen Kight got into bed one March night this year, he felt fine. The next morning, he got up to let the dog out – just like he’d done hundreds of times before – and he collapsed, right there by the bed. Kight had suffered a stroke and was totally paralyzed on his right side.

Kight was driven to the CHRISTUS St. Michael Hospital – Atlanta Emergency Department from Queen City and diagnosed with an ischemic stroke. Ischemic strokes occur when a vessel supplying blood to the brain is obstructed, often by a blood clot that forms in arteries damaged by the buildup of plaque, and account for about 87% of all strokes.

Following immediate appropriate assessment, Kight was transferred to CHRISTUS St. Michael Health System-Texarkana for an MRI, where he was treated, staying the hospital for a week before being transferred to CHRISTUS St. Michael Rehabilitation Hospital for an additional 2-week stay to enhance his recovery journey.. At the Rehab Hospital, Kight continued his plan of care, undergoing inpatient physical and occupational therapy, taking the first steps in getting his life back.

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With Kight’s right-side agility and mobility so heavily impacted by the stroke, he made the choice to continue physical and occupational therapy close to home at CHRISTUS St. Michael Hospital – Atlanta. In just a few short weeks, his balance has improved significantly, and he can now walk without the aid of a cane. He brags he feels better every day as his mobility increases with each therapy session as he works toward his goal of getting back behind the wheel of his car.

“After the stroke, the therapy has made me very optimistic about the future,” said Kight. “Just recently, I was able to tinker on equipment around the house and work on my mower. It’s been a long road, and that can be difficult. I’d tell anyone else in that position, other patients who suffer setbacks due to unforeseen medical conditions, to keep the faith. Look for the positives. Have patience and above all, stick with the program!”

Allen Kight’s story of treatment and rehabilitation is encouraging – but more it’s reassuring for people in the Ark-La-Tex community to know expert stroke care is near and easily accessible.

Experts advise that knowledge is power when striving to prevent or treat stroke. As a Primary Stroke Center, CHRISTUS St. Michael Health System serves as a community partner in stroke prevention and treatment and provides an Acute Stroke Response Team, available 24/7, that can promptly administer the clot-busting drug, tPA, and rapid treatment for stroke patients. In addition, CHRISTUS St. Michael Hospital-Atlanta is a Support (Level III) Stroke Facility and is also prepared to administer tPA and provide specialized stroke care.

Throughout the year and especially during Stroke Awareness Month in May, the experts at CHRISTUS St. Michael Health System are doing everything they can to make sure the people in the Texarkana region the four are prepared through education and awareness.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) urges everyone to learn the warning signs of stroke and take action to reduce their risks. Living a healthy lifestyle, being physically active, eating more fruits and vegetables and foods low in sodium and salt, maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding smoking can reduce the chances of having a stroke. Properly managing certain medical conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease and diabetes also can lower the risk.

“It’s extremely important to know and recognize the acronym ‘B.E.F.A.S.T.’ when it comes to stroke education,” said Jennifer Skinner, MSN, RN, SCRN, Stroke Coordinator, CHRISTUS St. Michael Health System. “Take a minute to memorize the acronym so you can act quickly – and acting quickly is what is most important. Time saves brain, and fast action saves thousands of lives and can prevent disability.”

How to BE FAST:
B. Balance – Is there a sudden loss of balance or coordination?
E. Eyes – Is there sudden blurred or double vision or sudden, persistent vision trouble?
F. Face – Ask the person to smile. Does one side of their face droop?
A. Arm – Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
S. Speech – Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?
T. Time – If you observe any of these signs, call 911 immediately, as time is very important during a stroke.

“Each year, nearly 1 million Americans suffer from a stroke,” said Skinner. “Stroke is the leading cause of adult disability and the fifth leading cause of death in the United States – and this region of the country is harder hit by stroke than most. CHRISTUS St. Michael Health System offers patients a chance to learn more about their risks and what options for prevention they have in just a few short minutes through taking a free health risk assessment online Can Stress Cause a Stroke? (christushealth.org).”

“Most importantly, if someone shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get the person to the hospital immediately,” said Skinner. “The more you know, the faster you can act, and the better the outcome will be for the patient – including saving a life.”

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