Stroke warning prompted by close call

Beverly Sherman
Beverly Sherman
Invercargill resident Beverly Sherman knows she is one of the lucky ones.

Three weeks ago, she had a stroke and managed to get to Southland Hospital quickly enough to receive proper care.

She was discharged from hospital last week after a full recovery.

Her story could have been very different if she and her husband, Errol, had not acted quickly.

Southern District Health Board figures showed that from January to June, about 116 patients presented at Southland Hospital with an ischemic stroke.

Of those, more than half arrived too late to have thrombolysis, a treatment to dissolve clots.

Clinical evidence shows the sooner a patient is thrombolysed, the lower the rate of disability from a stroke.

This week, Southland Hospital doctors urged Southlanders to "overcome their natural stoicism" and get to the hospital faster when they started experiencing stroke symptoms.

"Southlanders often wait to see if their symptoms will subside with time, but with a stroke this is not a good thing," Southland Hospital clinical director of medicine Prosen Ghosh said.

Mrs Sherman said it was quick action that helped her.

"Errol, the ambulance people and the hospital all played their part. I am one of the lucky ones, so, so lucky," Mrs Sherman said.

The former obstetric nurse recalled getting dressed in her Otatara home on a Wednesday morning and experiencing a "fizzy feeling" in her neck.

She did not take much notice, but when double vision set in a few minutes later she lay on her bed and had just enough time to call out to her husband to call an ambulance.

"I thought I was having stroke but I don’t know what made me think that — and then I don’t remember anything apart from finding it very hard to breathe."

Once at Southland Hospital, she was given thrombolysis.

She was flown to Christchurch Hospital for a clot retrieval; a neurologist passed a fine wire into the vessels of her brain to remove the clot.

She returned to Southland Hospital where she spent time resting and doing exercises.

Her neurologist called her "a miracle patient".

"Every day I’m better. Everything has worked so amazingly, I’ve no lasting effects, my speech is coming right, my hands work normally and two weeks after my stroke I am going home," Mrs Sherman said.

After her experience, Mrs Sherman’s advice was to get to know the signs of a stroke and, when experiencing symptoms, not to wait, but call an ambulance and get to hospital as fast as possible.

"Errol is just thankful I’m alive. It was a big shock for him."

Dr Ghosh also urged Southlanders to act fast.

"The quicker you get to hospital, the better the outcome is likely to be. Time is of the essence here."

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