Medicine helped stroke survivor Dena Hodge recover quickly

Posted on 5/7/2018

Palmetto Health recognizes National Stroke Awareness Month with stories of patients who experienced a terrifying time in their lives, but found the care they needed and the strength within themselves to pull through and recover. This is the second of four stories we will be highlighting during the month of May.

“It was on a Sunday,” remembers Dena Hodge, a resident of Abbeville.

“I sing in a chorale, and we had a concert that afternoon. My sister-in-law was spending the night with us, and we were talking and settling in for the night. I went back to my bedroom and into the bathroom, and I guess I lost my balance, because suddenly I was falling into the tub.”

Dena doesn’t remember everything that happened after that, but she recalls grabbing hold of the shower curtain and the rod coming down on her. “I was getting caught up in the curtain lining, and I thought, what a horrible way to die.”

Thankfully, Dena’s husband heard his wife banging on the wall and immediately responded. “He picked me up and asked me what was wrong, and I said I didn’t know. He saw that my speech was slurred and my mouth was drawn down, and he said, ‘I think you’re having a stroke.’”

Dena was rushed to the nearest emergency room and given a special medicine (tPA) that restores blood flow by dissolving the blood clot in the brain. Then, as a thunderstorm was brewing, she was rushed by ambulance to the Stroke Center at Palmetto Health Richland, where a thrombectomy was performed to remove what remained of the clot. She spent six days in the hospital, recuperating.

“On the first day, my speech came back fairly quickly,” says Dena. “I didn’t have much strength in my left arm and I couldn’t walk, so two physical therapists worked with me. They got me out of the wheelchair and walked me down the hall. They held me up and taught me how to walk again.”

Today, Dena is walking on her own and is looking forward to getting back to her work at Erskine College. “I play the piano, and I’m having a hard time playing with my left hand, but it is returning,” she says. “They told me I will make a 100 percent recovery.”

Dena remains thankful for the “excellent, quality care” she received from the stroke team at Palmetto Health Richland. She especially appreciates how she was thoroughly educated and informed by the people directly involved in her case. “They stood and sat at the edge of the bed. Family members could stay in the room, as well. And we got to hear from the experts who were taking care of me exactly what happened, from the moment I came in and until my recovery.”

“People need to realize what the signs of a stroke are,” stresses Dena. “If my husband didn’t have that knowledge beforehand – with my speech slurring and face drooping – we might not have known what was going on.”

If you see any of these signs, BE FAST:

B = Balance off/dizziness. Ask the person if they are experiencing sudden loss of balance or coordination.
E = Eyes. Ask the person if they have experienced sudden blurred vision or double vision.
F = Face drooping. Ask the person to smile. If the face droops on one side, it could be a sign of stroke.
A = Arm weakness. Ask the person to raise both arms. If they cannot hold one arm up, that is a sign.
S = Speech difficulty. Ask the person to say a few easy words. If their speech is slurred (drunk sounding) or if you can’t understand them, that is a sign.
T = Time to call 9-1-1. Time is very important. The sooner you get to the hospital, the better your chances of getting better.

If any of these signs happen, call 9-1-1 as soon as possible. The ambulance team will call the hospital and tell them your signs, and the stroke team will be ready to care for you when you arrive.

Palmetto Health Stroke Center

When seconds count, turn to our team of stroke experts.

Expert physicians and advanced technology have earned the Stroke Center at Palmetto Health accreditation as an Advanced Certification Primary Stroke Center from The Joint Commission. Our team is on-site 24/7.

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