School teacher Stephanie Blackstock remembers staring out at the world from inside a body that was rendered helpless. She had fallen out of bed on a Sunday morning, having lost all mobility on her right side. She couldn’t speak.
Stephanie’s husband, a paramedic, believed his wife was having a stroke, and told emergency first responders where he thought she needed to go. They agreed.
“They took me to Fort Sanders because it’s a Comprehensive Stroke Center,” Stephanie says. “Justin knew where to take me, and that’s why I’m here today.”
Keith Woodward, MD, a neurointerventional radiologist at Fort Sanders Regional, performed a thrombectomy, which is removal of a blood clot that is blocking blood flow to the brain. The clot sat atop 65 percent of her brain, and the damage could have been much worse if more time had lapsed between the stroke and the treatment.
Seeing this 41-year-old mom at her kids’ soccer games, you’d never guess she’s a stroke survivor. The only lingering effects are some speech difficulties, and she’s undergoing therapy to get those corrected.
“Everyone was great, and Dr. Woodward is phenomenal,” Stephanie says. “I can speak now, I’m reading, I’m doing math and, yes, it’s taking me a little bit of time, but I’m doing it.”
Because Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center offers outpatient therapy at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center, the transition from stroke treatment to stroke recovery has been seamless. Twice a week, she undergoes intense sessions to improve her cognitive skills and be the well-spoken teacher her school depends on.
“That’s the plan – to be out of speech therapy before school starts back,” she says.
While Stephanie obviously wouldn’t have chosen to have a stroke, the experience has caused her to focus on what’s important, and treasure each moment with her family. She credits Dr. Woodward and the Fort Sanders Regional Comprehensive Stroke Center with giving her a chance at a life that is more meaningful than ever.
“If I had gone somewhere else, I don’t know where I would be right now,” Stephanie says. “It’s all been a blessing.”