Fast action makes a difference for a stroke patient
On June 28, 2020, Waukesha resident Dale "Bud" Zeisberger, 75, was on the phone when he started having trouble speaking. He looked at his wife and mumbled "stroke." His left side started to go numb as his wife called 911.
"We were doing all the things we were supposed to do to stay healthy and be safe from COVID," he said. "Then all of the sudden, wham."
Within minutes, an ambulance had arrived at the Zeisberger home and transported Bud to ProHealth Waukesha Memorial Hospital, alerting emergency department staff on the way. The emergency department team quickly evaluated him and recommended an intravenous medication called tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) to treat acute stroke.
"They explained to me that if given early, the tPA would mean my chances would be very, very good," Zeisberger said. "I said let’s go for it."
A stroke is a brain attack. Strokes are a leading cause of serious, long-term disability and death. Signs of stroke may include facial numbness or drooping; arm or leg weakness; speech, vision and balance difficulties; confusion; and severe headache.
Emergency treatments for acute stroke are designed to rid the body of the blockage that caused the stroke, save brain cells and allow the patient to regain function. The medication travels to the brain and begins to break up the blood clot causing the stroke and restore blood flow. If administered quickly after the start of stroke symptoms, tPA can significantly reduce the effects of stroke.
The Waukesha Memorial emergency department team closely monitored Zeisberger as he was treated with the tPA.
"In the back of my mind, I thought I might be left somewhat paralyzed and my speech would be affected," he said. "But within about an hour, I started to sense improvement in my speech and started to feel much better."
Zeisberger was transferred to the hospital’s intensive care unit for a day’s stay, then moved to the stroke unit where he prepared to return home the following day. The stroke symptoms diminished and then disappeared.
"I was treated with the utmost respect by everyone at the hospital," Zeisberger said. "These are the same heroes that were heroes before the pandemic. Every person was concerned about my health. Everyone was very efficient, very friendly, and made my stay at the hospital as nice as it could have been."
Follow-up care for Zeisberger’s stroke included evaluation for possible damage to his heart due to the stroke and blood-thinning medication.
"It’s a miracle tPA was available to me and I got such good care at the hospital," he said. "I think it saved me from all sorts of issues."
Zeisberger feels restored to the good health he had been experiencing before his stroke. He wants others to know how important it is to act quickly when there are signs of a stroke.
"If I had to do it all over again, I would want it to go the same way," he said. "Everything that could have gone right actually did go right for me. Now I want other people to be aware of calling 911 if they need to."