On Monday, July 8, 2013, Orville Fulk left his early morning reading at his computer to talk with his wife. Each morning as he caught up on internet news, his wife would run for an hour with stretches immediately following her run. When she returned home he went downstairs to see her.
He chatted about what a beautiful morning it was. Kathy agreed but thought she would do her cool-down post stretching inside as the humidity was climbing so quickly outside. As they walked into the house, he felt his right arm go numb, and he couldn’t use it. Just as suddenly, he felt pressure on the right side of his face, and he couldn’t speak either.
His wife, Kathy, immediately recognized the signs of stroke. She saw his face drooping, heard his garbled speech and watched his frustration as he tried to manipulate his arm. His right arm lay useless in his lap as he lifted his left hand.
His wife sat him down and told him, “You’re having a stroke. I am calling the ambulance.” At first Orville could understand her as she spoke, but within minutes he could not.
“Her conversation just became a big pile of words. I could see them pile up just as if they were useless Scrabble letters,” said Orville. He became very frustrated. He tried to lift his right arm. Hallucinations began to happen to Orville. From where he sat he saw his right hand lift up high into the air, and it became detached from his arm as it floated away. He thought to himself, “Oh no, I am losing my arm.” He tried to catch it and reattach it.
When the paramedics arrived he could only see one side of the paramedic’s face at a time. Kathy explained what had happened to the EMS team. He said it was like looking at a split-screen TV which his brain couldn’t reconcile.
When he arrived by ambulance to the HSHS Good Shepherd Hospital’s emergency department, he was aware he was in trouble. He had lost the ability to communicate. He also failed at the power to discern any communications or demands spoken to him.
He was aware that he had a CAT scan. He remembered the IV as it started. He remembered being transferred by ambulance to HSHS St. John’s Hospital.
HSHS Good Shepherd Hospital began treatment to help stabilize his condition before his transfer to the stroke center. He remembered hearing that he was a candidate for the STAT Stroke program.
A short 16-miles later, he recognized businesses in Pana as he looked out of the back window of the ambulance. No longer nonverbal, he was once again able to answer questions from the paramedic. The paramedic’s face was whole again. And he could speak short sentences.
Less than two hours later, because of advanced treatment with the clot-busting drug, tPA, and treatment from HSHS St. John’s, he was able to talk. He was well on his way to making a full recovery.
After his treatment his neurologist told Orville that ‘he had a whirlwind-massive stroke’.
By that afternoon, he was laughing and joking with his therapist who casually remarked that he would have never known that earlier that day Orville had endured a massive stroke. His recovery was complete.
Orville thanks each person from Kathy who recognized his stroke symptoms, the responding paramedics, the life-saving HSHS Good Shepherd Hospital team, and finally the team at HSHS St. John’s, all who performed such an amazing job.
May is national stroke awareness month. According to the CDC, someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds.
CEO and President of HSHS Good Shepherd Hospital, Aaron Puchbauer replied, “It is important for laypeople like Kathy to understand the symptoms and how to react when they see a stroke.”
Puchbauer continues, “Since Orville’s stroke, we have implemented a stroke robot which brings a neurologist into the midst of the emergency room with the patient and their family through telemedicine. This skype-like device makes it possible for us to have access to a neurologist 24-hours-a-day and seven-days-a-week. The family can even ask the neurologist questions about the patient’s condition.”
“Recognize the signs of a stroke, call for an ambulance, and trust our hospital for treatment,” laments Orville. “I live a full, productive life again. Most people don’t know I ever had a stroke. There is no doubt in my mind that my successful journey back from my stroke started with the care I received at HSHS Good Shepherd Hospital.”
About HSHS Good Shepherd Hospital
Since its inception in 1916, HSHS Good Shepherd Hospital in Shelbyville (GSS) has been dedicated to excellence in healthcare for those living and visiting their communities. GSS has accomplished this by providing comprehensive health services and meeting the needs of patients served through their compassionate care, business integrity and community responsibility. GSS provides a 24/7 emergency department that is fully staffed by physicians and highly-trained nurses, and also features inpatient and outpatient services, including a 24-hour laboratory and an imaging department that meets today’s highest standards for diagnostic imaging technology. GSS has an advanced surgery department and an acute inpatient care unit. Dedicated to being a hometown hospital, GSS’ home health and rehabilitation departments are committed to excellence with a team of professional nurses and therapists providing a variety of medical services and rehabilitative therapies, all designed to help patients heal in their own environment. The group of visiting specialists in the outpatient clinic works closely with GSS to help keep the healthcare services local even if a specialized procedure or exam is required. GSS strives to be the first choice for the community’s healthcare needs. For more information about HSHS Good Shepherd Hospital, visit www.hshsgoodshepherd.org.
About Hospital Sisters Health System
Hospital Sisters Health System’s (HSHS) mission is to reveal and embody Christ’s healing love for all people through our high quality Franciscan health care ministry. HSHS provides state-of-the-art health care to our patients and is dedicated to serving all people, especially the most vulnerable, at each of our 15 local systems and physician practices in Illinois (Belleville, Breese, Decatur, Effingham, Greenville, Highland, Litchfield, Shelbyville and Springfield) and Wisconsin (Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire, Oconto Falls, Sheboygan and two in Green Bay). HSHS is sponsored by Hospital Sisters Ministries, and Hospital Sisters of St. Francis is the founding institute. For more information about HSHS, visit www.hshs.org. For more information about Hospital Sisters of St. Francis, visitwww.hospitalsisters.org.