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The Sound of Silence

Posted on September 24, 2020 in Patient Stories

Patient returns to music and ministry after fast treatment by Stroke Team at Fort Sanders Regional

Brenda Gentry playing her guitarMusic rolls across the airwaves from a Sweetwater radio station on a Sunday morning. As the broadcast encourages listeners to rejoice, the woman playing the music may be rejoicing more than anyone else.

Brenda Gentry, 68, is a Methodist minister, musician and lifelong resident of Loudon. She is also one of many stroke patients successfully treated at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center.

Her family moved quickly to get her to the hospital, giving her the chance to keep the music playing in her life.

Unexpected Trouble

The only sign of trouble had been what Gentry describes as “a gray circle” in her vision. The stroke hit while she was working in the garden, and she never saw it coming.

“We were gathering corn,” Gentry says, “I was laying it on my left arm and it kept rolling off.”

Then, while bending over, she tumbled to the ground. Gentry asked her husband to help her get back up, but he told her to stay put. He shouted to their son, who called 9-1-1.

Excellence in Stroke Treatment

At the recommendation of the EMTs, Gentry was rushed to Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center, a comprehensive stroke and rehabilitation center. That means Fort Sanders Regional is one of a select number of hospitals specially equipped to give a higher level of care to stroke patients.

“The nurse asked me to squeeze her hand,” Gentry says. “My brain thought I was squeezing, but I looked down and my hand was just laying there. Then I started crying.”

As her tears fell, her nurse compassionately offered reassurance. Gentry had every reason to feel hopeful, because she had made it to the hospital quickly enough to receive an injection of recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (tPA).

“The FDA-approved treatment initiated in 1995 is tPA, ‘a clot buster’ to help open the blockage in the vessel causing the stroke,” says Fort Sanders Regional neurohospitalist Kathleen Ward, DO. “This is available for the first three hours after the symptoms start. For a few patients who meet the criteria, the treatment window is extended to 4.5 hours.”

A Life Restored

After a short stay in the hospital, Gentry was able to return to the ministry and music she loves. As her fingers touched the keys of the piano and the strings of her guitar, she rejoiced.

“The care at Fort Sanders Regional was exceptional from the moment I rolled in till the moment I rolled out,” Gentry says. “It was just a miracle, and I praise the Lord for life…and for the great team at Fort Sanders Regional.”

Learn more about our stroke services.

Read about our recent stroke and cardiac awards.