As Daryl Brubaker of Timberville did morning exercises at home, he felt lightheaded. Thinking he had overexerted himself, he slowed down and stretched. That’s when he realized that his right arm was numb.
Concerned, Brubaker tried to tell his wife, Rebekah, but the right words wouldn’t come out.
“It was weird; different words came out of my mouth than the words I wanted to say,” says Daryl, who is in his early 30s. “Neither of us said it to the other, but we both suspected that I was having a stroke. We still thought, ‘No way.’”
The couple dropped off their children with relatives and drove to Sentara RMH Medical Center. Daryl walked into the emergency department (ED). He was assessed by a triage nurse, then quickly evaluated by the stroke team, which includes an ED physician, a neurologist and several nurses. The team confirmed that he was having a stroke.
After a CT scan showed no bleeding in his brain, Daryl was cleared to intravenously receive a clot-busting drug called tissue plasminogen activator, or tPA. The drug is considered the gold standard for treating ischemic strokes, which are caused by a blockage within a blood vessel that supplies oxygen to the brain.
“The stroke team did an amazing job,” says Daryl, a branch manager at Park View Federal Credit Union. “From the minute I got there, they knew what was going on, and they took it very seriously. A couple of nurses stayed with me. They explained everything that was happening and kept my wife informed. I was happy with the care and the way everything was handled.”
Prepared to help
“With stroke, time is brain,” says Dan Chehebar, D.O., a neurologist and medical director of the hospital’s stroke program. “With current treatment therapies, you usually have up to three hours to give the clot-busting drugs that may reduce brain damage. We also know, however, that the sooner people get the drug, the better their chances are of making a good recovery.”
Daryl recovered quickly from his stroke. Doctors believe it may have been the result of a genetic clotting disorder. He currently is under the care of a hematologist who has prescribed a blood thinner to help prevent another stroke.
“My takeaway from this experience is, if you think you’re having a stroke, call 911,” Daryl says.
“The rescue squad can call ahead to the hospital so that the stroke team is ready to meet you at the door. I realize I was fortunate to have arrived at the hospital in time to receive the clot-busting drug, but I tell people not to mess around. Getting to the hospital quickly is the best way to ensure a full recovery.”