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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Day 1

On Tuesday, July 15th, Todd experienced a stroke. We understand that in the morning at work, his co-workers heard him vomit at his desk. When they arrived, they saw him sitting with his head in his hands. He was unresponsive to any questions, but was breathing normally. They called 911 immediately and he was rushed to the Jordan Valley Hospital.

At the hospital, he was responsive, but had slurred speech and would not open his eyes. His mouth drooped to one side for a little while and he talked about taking care of his work responsibilities. He also had convulsions where his arms and legs flailed in the air, but were not full-body seizures (his tongue was not out of his mouth, it was only certain parts of his body, and he seemed to keep some degree of control).

They ran a bevy of tests including a CT scan, chest x-rays, an EKG, and an MRI. After all but the MRI they ruled out a stroke and from x-rays and a doctor listening to his lungs, diagnosed him with pneumonia. The admitting doctor said that pneumonia had commonality with things like meningitis and could cause brain injury symptoms. This didn't make sense to us and we said as much and continued to emphasize our opinion that it was a stroke and the reasons why we thought it was a stroke (slurred speech, drooped side of lip, and obvious mental impairment). I even asked the emergency room doctor after looking they looked at the CT scan if they were sure this was not a stroke. They said they were sure it was not a stroke, especially after looking at the CT scan which she said was "clean."

The next morning, they finally agreed with us (probably after the MRI showed some indications) and wisely determined they would send him to the University of Utah Medical Center where they have a stroke center and a stroke team.

The biggest problem in my mind is that along with the large number of drugs they pumped into him during the first two hours he was there to combat viral, bacterial, and other possible problems, they did not administer any stroke medications, despite our constant admonitions that we believed he had a stroke. Therefore, the vital three hours passed without the key help he needed despite being in an emergency room.

Todd has been sleeping most of the time. I have learned that this is good. Jill Taylor, a neuroanatomist was recently on Fresh Air on NPR and talked about what it was like to have a stroke and map its progress as it was happening, but more importantly, what key elements are most important for recovery. Instead of keeping the brain engaged as much as possible, Dr. Taylor argues that sleep allows the brain to heal more fully. A link to the site so you can listen is here.

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