September 29, 2017 began as a fine day for 52 year old Connie Norton. She had just returned home from dinner out with her husband and 11 year old grandson. Her husband left for work and Connie began to settle in for the evening, just as she had done on countless nights before, when it hit her all of the sudden. “I just didn’t feel right. I couldn’t hold my eyes open and felt the sleepiest I had ever been.” Connie was having a stroke.
“I remember trying to talk to my grandson, but it was just babble and he knew he had to get help right away, but all I could get out was the word “mother” for some reason.” Connie’s grandson called her mother and her husband and within 30 minutes, she was at Fort Loudoun Medical Center.
At the hospital, Connie said she was amazed how quickly everything happened to get her admitted. “It was like clockwork- it was so impressive. The registration and the emergency people worked together, but didn’t get in each other’s way.” In the back of her mind, Connie thought she might be having a stroke, but it didn’t really hit her until a Code Stroke was called overhead.
Connie said she missed several signs leading up to her stroke, and dismissed them due to her age. She chalked the symptoms up to menopause and stress. She had gained weight, her blood pressure was uncontrolled and Connie admits she knew her lifestyle was not the healthiest. “We ate out all the time. I didn’t exercise and I was stressed. With my family history, I should have been taking better care of myself.”
After being triaged at Fort Loudoun, Connie was started on clot-busting medication. She said the doctor was very matter of fact, but was compassionate about the situation and did not try to scare her. Connie remembers there were two nurses working in tandem to make sure she understood what was happening. “I was frustrated with myself because I couldn’t answer any of their questions, but they were so kind and patient with me. They reassured me and my family of every move.
Fort Loudoun is part of Covenant Health’s stroke hospital network, so Connie was transferred to Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center for further testing and an infusion treatment. She ended up being admitted to the neuro unit for a few days. As she was loaded into the ambulance at Fort Loudoun, she recalls that one of her nurses was so relieved that they were able to get her stabilized that she hugged Connie on the gurney. “I think she was thrilled to see me talk a little bit and that what they had done worked!”
Less than three years later as Connie tells her story, she said she has had a full recovery and only feels a little numbness in her right foot. “I am on blood pressure medicine and an aspirin now, and I have dropped 30 pounds.” In a continued effort to maintain a healthy lifestyle, Connie said she orders food more wisely now and tries to manage her stress levels and educate other women on stroke signs. “It can happen! Don’t ignore the signs because I let it go too long. Don’t miss your checkups because you’re too busy.” She advises to take better care of yourself, especially those women who are approaching menopause and to have a better mind set about the progression of life.
Connie is thankful for each person at Fort Loudoun. She expressed gratitude for the doctor, nurses, lab, and imaging people. “They did the stroke protocol efficiently, but did it with kindness and I appreciate the time they took with my family. I’m thankful for each one of them. I’m so thankful it worked because Fort Loudoun saved my life. Any time I hear anyone talking about the hospital, I tell them, that little hospital saved me.”