Archive | May 21, 2018

Father of Five Survives Stroke

Christopher Ford woke that day in August with a bit of a headache. But it was nothing that would stop the 34-year-old truck driver and father of five from hauling a load from Mullins to Columbia.

As the miles passed, the headache became worse. Chris thought he should take an aspirin. Then, the pain suddenly escalated.

“I was probably 10 minutes from the loading dock, and from out of nowhere it felt like someone took a sledge hammer and hit me on the back of the head,” he said. “It felt like my head exploded for a minute, and I started feeling lightheaded and dizzy.”

Christopher Ford

Although still in pain, the intensity subsided and Chris finished his trip. But when he stepped out of his truck, he noticed the left side of his shirt was soaked — with his own saliva.

“I couldn’t figure out how that happened. I remember thinking, ‘Why am I drooling?”’

A co-worker struck up a conversation on the loading dock, but Chris couldn’t form the simple words to respond.

“I’d never had anything like this happen to me,” he said. “But I thought, ‘It’ll go away, just keep working.’” Unloading complete, he stumbled briefly on his way back to his truck cab to finally take an aspirin. That’s when he noticed two missed calls from his wife Renee on his phone.

“I called her back, and she said, ‘Chris, were you asleep or something? You sound funny.’ I told her ‘No,’ but couldn’t make her understand me. None of the words sounded right. So I told her I couldn’t talk and hung up.”

Chris knew something was really wrong and so did his wife. He had been diagnosed with elevated blood pressure just a year before. He recently left a high-stress job behind, but poor eating habits and little regular exercise contributed to his risk.

Renee called Chris back, this time with a colleague by her side to listen to him, too. “I heard her co-worker at the school tell Renee, ‘I think your husband is having a stroke.’”

“I said, that’s impossible. Not me, I’m 34. I was athletic in school. I can’t be having a stroke.”

But a stroke is exactly what Chris experienced. Nearly nine out of 10 strokes are caused by a blood clot that blocks an artery supplying blood to the brain. Chris experienced some of the most 8common warning signs of stroke; sudden weakness of the face, causing excessive drooling; trouble speaking; dizziness; trouble walking; and that sudden, severe headache.

Renee urged Chris to call an ambulance, but when he hesitated, she took matters into her own hands. Emergency medical help was there within minutes to take Chris to Lexington Medical Center.

At Lexington Medical Center, a quick review of Chris’ CT scan and angiogram revealed a large blockage in his right cerebral artery, which nourishes the majority of the right brain. /a>, of Lexington Radiology Associates, a Lexington Medical Center physician practice, knew he had to act fast.

“Without blood flow, the neural damage to the brain was progressing rapidly,” he said. “Expedited treatment was critical.”

Dr. McCarty confirmed the large blood clot with an arteriogram and removed it successfully, restoring blood flow to the brain.

Chris was fortunate. Fast action on the part of his wife, emergency medical technicians and the Lexington Medical Center staff made it possible to quickly dissolve and clear the clot. Chris was home after only three days in the hospital, with no symptoms or long-term effects from the stroke.

Chris has completely changed his lifestyle choices to guard against a future occurrence. He limits salt intake, no longer drinks soda, and has also eliminated alcohol from his diet. He manages stress and is building his muscle mass with gym workouts four to five times a week. And he takes a baby aspirin every day, as recommended by his doctor.

“I’m keeping my blood pressure at a healthy level — I have to make sure nothing happens again to scare me or my family,” he said. “It dawned on me, finally, that you’re never too young to have a stroke, especially if you’re not taking care of yourself.”

To learn more about stroke care at Lexington Medical Center, visit LexMed.com/Stroke.