Stroke victim grateful for nearly complete recovery

Adam Watson and his wife were at a shop in February 2016 getting matching anniversary tattoos, something they do every year, when he started feeling nauseous.

“I went to the restroom at the tattoo shop to splatter my face with water,” Watson said. “I felt really dizzy and fell over. That’s when I came out and they were trying to give me something to drink, and it was running down my face and my chest and everything.”

His wife then drove him to the Berkeley Medical Center in Martinsburg, West Virginia. Since then, Watson, who was 36 at the time, has mostly recovered from his stroke. He is only on a few medicines, he said, and he is back to work, but he still has fatigue.

Watson, of Martinsburg, appeared at a news conference Thursday with his physician, Dr. Dan-Victor Giurgiutiu, and two nurses to speak about his stroke and how to identify the symptoms. The news conference came just days before the Winchester Medical Center will host a community seminar on stroke. At 6 p.m. Tuesday, Giurgiutiu is set to speak about recognizing common stroke symptoms in an effort to get people to catch strokes more quickly.

During the seminar, staff at the Winchester Medical Center will offer free screenings estimating individuals’ risk of having a stroke.

Watson’s outlook has changed since the stroke.

“Just in general, I’m not allowed to have bad days any more,” Watson said. “I’m just lucky to be here.”

Watson had a hemorrhagic stroke, a kind of stroke that can happen when an aneurysm — or a bulge in an artery — in his brain burst. Over 37 percent of people who are diagnosed with hemorrhagic strokes die within 30 days of entering the hospital, according to a 2012 article in Stroke, a journal published by the American Heart Association.

Since having his stroke, Watson has been back to a tattoo shop. He and his wife have gotten matching tattoos of an aneurysm awareness ribbon.

“I have the aneurysm awareness ribbon on my shirt; I wear it to work every day,” Watson said.

Beyond discussing Watson’s stroke, Giurgiutiu and the nurses stressed the importance of getting a stroke treated as quickly as possible.

If a stroke is not treated quickly, a large amount of nervous tissue can be lost. According to a 2017 study in Stroke, the brain of a stroke victim loses as many nerve cells in an hour without treatment as a normal person would lose in over 3 1/2 years of aging.

“The whole message is when you have a stroke — either bleeding or a blockage — there is treatment that can be supported, but the faster you can get in (to the hospital), the better you can leave,” Giurgiutiu said.