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Kate's Stroke Story

Kate’s Story: Stroke

Kate was driving her car when she heard a loud sound. Thinking something happened to her vehicle, she pulled over to the side of the road. As she tried to get out of the car, she discovered the problem wasn’t with the car, it was with her.

She began shaking uncontrollably and lost her ability to control her coordination. Kate, an experienced project manager and professional problem solver, knew that in order to get the help she needed, she had to remain calm and get someone’s attention. A caring passerby called an ambulance and Kate was taken to nearby El Camino Hospital in Mountain View. In the short time it took to get to the hospital, Kate’s left side had become paralyzed.

Fortunately for Kate, the head of the El Camino Hospital Stroke Center, was on site and a team of clinicians was waiting to assess her. The stroke team used the National Institute Stroke Scale to determine her amount of impairment. The scale looks at certain factors, including paralysis, mobility and communication. Kate scored poorly.

After a series of MRIs and other diagnostic tests, Kate learned she had suffered an ischemic stroke, caused by a blood clot in her brain. The clot was in a particularly dangerous location and the best chance for recovery would be to have a thrombectomy, a procedure that would involve inserting a catheter through an artery in her groin up to her brain. Once the catheter was in place, a tiny mechanical device would be used to break up and remove the clot.

“They call me a miracle,” says Kate. “Apparently, my positivity and ability to remain calm and mentally focused during the trauma helped me recover quickly.” However, Kate acknowledges what she considers the key component to her successful recovery – the Stroke Center team. “The wonderful, caring, knowledgeable medical staff – from the Stroke Center medical director and the neurosurgeons, to the nurses – were with me every step of the way. Having a stroke is scary, and they were always there to explain everything they were going to do. They constantly involved me, which made me feel like I was in good hands and gave me comfort.”

Upon discharge from the hospital about four days later, Kate scored a zero on the stroke scale, meaning she exhibited no outward signs of having had a stroke. Her speech intact, along with her ability to walk and her lack of paralysis, meant she was ready to go home. And although Kate feels very fortunate to be home again, she knows her life has forever changed since this life-threatening event, a week before her 67th birthday.