It was a day like most days. Lynn Wickham, 79, drove a golf cart up to his buddy, grabbed a seven iron and started to warm up with practice shots.
“I usually hit a seven iron 140 yards, but I took a swing, and my ball went about 20 yards. I thought, ‘That’s odd,’ so I took another ball and did the same thing. I didn’t have any coordination. I just couldn’t swing the golf club,” Lynn said.
Lynn turned to his buddy and tried to say, “I don’t know what’s going on here, but I’m going home,” yet the words spilled out with slippery, soggy syllables.
Within five minutes, Lynn had driven home with the intent of taking a nap to sleep it off – whatever “it” was. Jean, his sweetheart of more than 50 years, wouldn’t let that happen. She identified Lynn’s unstable coordination and slurring as tell-tale signs of a dangerous situation.
“She looked me in the eyes and said, ‘You’re having a stroke.’ I guess I was in disbelief, but obviously something had taken over my body,” Lynn said.
Strokes occur when blood and oxygen don’t get to the brain. Once a stroke begins, a person can lose about 2 million brain cells per minute. That’s why, when it comes to strokes, time is brain.
“As soon as we got there, Jene told the admittance person that she thought I was having a stroke. They didn’t worry about paperwork or insurance cards, they rushed me right back and started asking me questions. They kept asking how long I had felt that way. I wondered what the big deal was,” Lynn said.
A CT scan confirmed that Lynn had a blood clot on his brain, meaning he was suffering an ischemic stroke.
“When the doc said I was indeed having a stroke – talk about a wake-up call! A lot of thoughts started going through my mind. Am I going to live? Am I going to have a disability? Will I be wheelchair bound? Does this mean I’ll never play golf again?” Lynn said.
Thankfully, Lynn’s questions soon had answers. The highly trained medical emergency team at EIRMC administered an intravenous clot-busting drug to stop the stroke. When received in a timely manner, tissue plasminogen activator (r-tPA), the gold standard treatment for ischemic strokes, can save lives and reduce a stroke’s long-term effects.
“The faster the better – that’s a rule to live by,” Lynn said. “Time is of the essence with strokes. That’s why I say, ‘Take me to EIRMC.’ They have a rapid response!”
Lynn spent two nights recuperating and under close observation at EIRMC before being discharged home. With each day he felt his coordination and clarity of mind return.
“Toward the afternoon on the second day they sent me for an MRI, and then the doctor came with the good news. He said the MRI showed the clot had completely dissipated and disappeared, and I didn’t have any internal bleeding so I could go home,” Lynn said. “The care at EIRMC was absolutely fantastic. The doctors kept me informed and the nurses kept a sharp eye on me. They showed me wonderful concern and had such a cheerful, good feeling.”
Returning to his home after care from the personable and professional team at EIRMC felt like an honor to Lynn – one he’ll be eternally grateful for.
“We left the hospital in awe and with a feeling of gratitude that our prayers were answered,” Lynn said. “Plus, I played golf all summer this year … and I haven’t noticed any side effects. It was almost too good to be true.”