Patient Testimonial

Andrew Onufer

Andy Lavern Stroke Article

On a Friday in early January of 2012, my wife and I were sitting in our parlor when she began to complain of a sudden severe pain on the left side of her head. It was just a sharp jolt for a few seconds, and I asked if we should go to see our doctor. The pain stopped, so she said “no.” The next day, she was a little listless. At church the following day, she had trouble counting money, yet still returned home, insisting she was alright.

On the following Monday, we visited the family doctor and after hearing Laverne’s symptoms, were told to drive her to the emergency room. So, I drove her to Morton Plant, not knowing there was a stroke hospital closer to where we lived. 

When we arrived, we waited for several hours before Laverne was seen. It was determined that she had experienced a minor stroke that affected her balance. She was treated by the doctors, put on blood thinners and released after a few days. Looking back, I wonder why the doctor did not call 9-1-1 for an ambulance transport, thereby providing oxygen and possibly a preventative stroke medication before she was seen in the emergency room.

She appeared to be fine for about three weeks. Then, on January 31, she was sitting on a couch and suddenly became weak. I was concerned and asked her to smile. The smile was crooked. Then, I asked her to stick out her tongue. She did and her tongue tilted to her right side. Next, I asked her to raise both arms above her head, and she could not. It was at that time I recognized that she had just experienced a stroke. I called 9-1-1 for an ambulance, which took her immediately to the nearest hospital, Largo Medical Center. Right away, she was placed in the Medical Intensive Care Unit. After receiving care, she was released and placed in a rehabilitative nursing home. We did not know there were any alternatives that would have been better for her.

After 100 days, Laverne’s Medicare benefits ran out. Fortunately, my granddaughter had researched for an alternative and discovered HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital of Largo, where Laverne was admitted into their program for physical, occupational and speech therapies. I was asked why I did not bring her there first and the only answer I could give was that we did not know HealthSouth existed.

I was impressed with HealthSouth Largo. They had doctors around the clock that saw each person every day and reviewed their charts before stopping in to see the patient. The care that my wife received at HealthSouth was excellent, first rate, the best doctors and staff. I could not be more pleased with her care. HealthSouth Largo was excellent.

After one month, she returned home to recuperate with 24-hour care and visiting therapists. We both now reside at Cypress Palms Largo, an enhanced assisted living community where we can be together, and attend the stroke support meetings at Cypress Palms and HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital of Largo on a regular basis.

I am writing this to help people understand that the first two or three hours of a stroke is most important because the doctors then have an opportunity to use methods to dissolve blood clots and help the patient have a better chance to lessen the damage. I am troubled that I did not recognize that she had her first stroke and the importance of immediate action. If you are not sure it is a stroke, don’t delay…better to be safe than sorry.

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