Stroke occurs at worst time, best location

Donna Hodson and her husband John, of Toms Brook, walk outside their home. Donna Hodson recently suffered a stroke while they were at Parris Island, South Carolina. A clot-busting drug reversed the effects of the stroke and she has fully recovered. Rich Cooley/Daily

TOMS BROOK — During a trip to see their grandson graduate from the U.S. Marine Corps in South Carolina, the outing took a turn for the worse when Donna Hodson had a stroke.

It was supposed to be a day of celebration on Parris Island for the Hodson family on Sept. 17.

“Thousands and thousands of people were there,” said John Hodson, 78, of Toms Brook.

After fatigue had set in, John went to rest in the car. Donna Hodson, 72, was coming out of the restroom when her drink fell from her hand and she fell to the floor. At this point a family member went to get John Hodson.

“EMTs were right on top of it within minutes,” John Hodson said.

In minutes, paralysis had set in and his wife felt no movement on her left side.

In order to treat her, the medics had to determine if the stroke was a bleeding stroke or a stroke caused by a blood clot. When it was determined to be a blood clot, they administered a clot-buster shot.

“Within an hour, it will really help a stroke victim,” John Hodson said. It may even help improve memory issues, he added, which would be a big help to Donna, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.

Because of the Alzheimer’s, she doesn’t remember what happened. She suffers from short-term memory loss.

To receive additional treatment, Donna Hodson was transported by helicopter to Charleston, South Carolina. Her flight took 20 minutes, while the rest of the family spent an hour and a half driving, John Hodson said.

“We’re a pretty tight family,” he said, adding that the family was there to support her. Eleven people, he said, crammed into the hospital room.

While at the hospital, doctors asked John about how their home was setup and if there were any steps. They were already thinking about rehabilitation.

“They were looking at the worst possible scenario,” John Hodson said.

When he arrived at the hospital the following day, he was surprised to see his wife walking down the hallway toward him with a rehabilitation specialist. It didn’t seem like Donna Hodson would need rehab at all.

Due to her Alzheimer’s, all she remembers of the incident is walking down the hospital hallway toward her husband.

“That’s about all I know about it,” she said.

Donna Hodson was released from the hospital on Sept. 19, and her husband said, “Donna’s doing really really well considering.”

There have been no after effect. “It’s been a pretty miraculous whirlwind,” he added. “It was just great care.”

He said he doesn’t know what would have happened if the stroke took place anywhere else, and that they were lucky that it occurred at a military base with EMTs in the building.

Strokes can happen to anyone. According to the American Stroke Association’s website, http://tinyurl.com/6mlbarh, strokes are the No. 5 cause of death and the leading cause of adult disability in the U.S.

The website identifies warning signs of a stroke with the acronym F.A.S.T, which stands for  face drooping, arm weakness, speech difficulty, time to call 911.

John Hodson said his wife exhibited these warning signs just before and after her stroke.

Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or ktoy@nvdaily.com