Timothy Holt, 48, was about half-way through his work day when he noticed he had blurry vision in his left eye. He was concerned at first, but when it went away he put it off as glare from the lights.
He finished his work day without additional symptoms, but when he sat in his car to drive home, he noticed his reaction time was off. His brain was working faster than his hands, and he was having trouble pulling out of his parking space. He was finally able to get out his parking space, and on the drive home he started feeling normal again.
“I really started to feel better, so I didn’t think much of my symptoms,” says Holt. “Next thing I know, I’m sitting in my car with the air bag deployed. Looking back out the rear-view window, I realized I had been in a car accident.”
Holt had blacked out while driving and got in a minor car accident, hitting two other cars. Bystanders called 911 and checked on him to make sure he was doing okay.
“I was confused about what happened, but physically I felt fine. I sat on the curb until the police and fire department arrived,” says Holt. “The paramedics asked me a couple questions, and they knew based off my speech and the way I was moving, that I was having a stroke.”
Paramedics rushed Holt to MemorialCare Long Beach Medical Center, where the Comprehensive Stroke Center care team worked to assess him and develop a treatment plan.
While several area hospitals are equipped to treat strokes, Long Beach Medical Center is a designated Joint Commission Certified Comprehensive Stroke Center offering the highest level of care to quickly assess and treat patients, like Holt, who are suffering from a stroke.
The team discovered Holt had a major occlusion (blockage) in the artery feeding the left side of his brain. Viktor Szeder, M.D., neurointerventionalist, neuroendovascular surgeon, and his team worked quickly and performed minimally invasive surgery to place two stents, small tubes, that helped to restore blood flow to Holt’s brain.
“When I woke up after surgery, I was surrounded by my fiancé and family,” says Holt. “The doctors reassured us that I was going to be fine and they let me know how lucky and blessed I was that I didn’t have any major physical injuries.”
Angie West, MSN, RN, program director, Comprehensive Stroke Center, Long Beach Medical Center, looks at Holt’s case as an example that a stroke can happen to anyone, and the importance of timing and knowing the signs of a stroke.
“It’s so important for people to know that a stroke isn’t something that only happens to overweight or older individuals,” says West. “It can happen to anyone and its extremely important to be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of a stroke. Timothy’s case is a prime example of why timing is so important. Because the paramedics recognized he was having a stroke and rushed him here, he was able to avoid major neurological damage.”
After two days in the hospital, Holt was able to continue his recovery and rehabilitation from the comfort of his own home.
“I’m so lucky that I didn’t hurt myself or anyone else in that accident, I really have so much to be thankful for,” says Holt. “Everyone at the Comprehensive Stroke Center, the paramedics, everyone was amazing. Without all of them I wouldn’t have been able to go home to my family.”
Holt is still going to outpatient therapy and has appointments with his neurologist to make sure everything is looking good, but it’s hard to imagine that he recently had a stroke.
“The stroke really was a wakeup call for me and my family,” says Holt. “I’ve always felt healthy, and never really put much thought into monitoring my health. My step-son,Troy, is a former NFL player and is helping me fix up my diet and with my rehab exercises. The whole family is really putting in an effort into our diet and exercise now.”