Dr. Dick’s colleagues ordered imaging tests that showed he’d had a stroke in the back right portion of his brain. He was transferred to University Hospital for specialty neurology and neurosurgery care, should surgery become necessary. He spent seven days in the hospital.
“The vomiting persisted for four or five days, and I had swelling in my brain in the area of the stroke,” says Dr. Dick. “My physicians were concerned, if the swelling continued, they might need to intervene. But that wasn’t necessary.”
Dr. Dick had many tests to explore the cause of the stroke. Commonly in a stroke, a blood clot from somewhere in the body travels to the brain and blocks the blood supply. Getting immediate medical attention and clot-busting medication to dissolve the clot and restore the blood supply to the brain helps minimize damage from the stroke. In Dr. Dick’s case, the inside layer of an artery peeled away from the outer layers and fell into the blood vessel, blocking blood supply from that vessel. Clot-busting medication would not have made a difference.
“The physicians couldn’t determine what caused my stroke, and my other blood vessels and heart received a clean bill of health,” says Dr. Dick. “I didn’t have to adjust my lifestyle and am not at risk for a recurrence. I spent four days in rehabilitation, working with physical therapists to regain my balance, which came back relatively quickly.”
Recovery Facilitated by Good Physical Condition
Eight weeks after the stroke, Dr. Dick not only returned to work in the Emergency Department, he ran the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon. “I was signed up for the marathon before the stroke and was determined to make it,” he says.
Dr. Dick says his recovery was aided by his good overall physical condition. “I am active and eat pretty well. I think I recovered quickly because I was in good shape,” he says. “Even healthy people can have something go wrong, even if it’s just a broken bone. Your recovery chances are optimized if you are in better condition already.”
Act If Something’s Not Right
Dr. Dick emphasizes that stroke symptoms can take many forms and depend on the area of the brain affected. His symptoms were not classic, but his colleagues recognized that something was not normal about his condition and rushed him to the Emergency Department.
“I work in emergency medicine, and I didn’t recognize what was happening to me,” he says. “My experience highlights the importance of others friends, family and co-workers noticing when someone is having a medical problem and taking prompt action. Do what you think is appropriate, even if the individual in question insists it’s not necessary.”