Faces of Stroke

THE FIVE PEOPLE YOU SEE are stroke survivors. Stroke can happen at any age, to anyone, even those who seem healthy and not at risk. The survivors here, along with their families, can tell you that having a stroke is serious and can be life-changing.

Seeking treatment FAST increases your chance to survive and thrive after stroke.

Know the signs of stroke. If you believe someone is having a stroke, treat it like the emergency it is and act FAST.

WILL MILLER, age 4 — Age at time of stroke: 1 ½

Will was only a year-and-a-half old when he had his stroke. Born with a heart defect, he had several stroke risk factors that all came together on January 22, 2013, when his mother found him in his crib with one side of his body limp. He was assessed at Deaconess Gateway Hospital and then flown to Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis. Since his stroke, Will has had intensive physical, occupational and speech therapies, helping him restore movement and function. Today, Will is four and is a happy, engaged little boy who receives therapy while at preschool at Ferdinand Elementary.

SANDY DYER, age 35 — Age at time of stroke: 33

A healthy young woman, a busy mom and wife, a flight nurse with Air Evac—Sandy doesn’t look like your typical stroke patient. But on September 26, 2014, Sandy had a stroke while driving home from work. Her husband found her pulled over on the side of the road, unable to speak or move. She was quickly taken to Deaconess Hospital where her CT scan showed that she had a massive blood clot in an artery near the base of her brain. She had a specialized procedure by a neurosurgeon to remove the clot. Sandy was also diagnosed with a previously-unknown heart defect that she’s had since birth, which allowed blood to pool in her heart, causing the clot. She has since had the heart defect repaired. Now, except for changes in her handwriting, and how quickly she speaks, Sandy is “back to normal.” She continues to fly with Air Evac and is also the director of the emergency department at Gibson General Hospital.

PENNY GOSHERT, age 55 — Age at time of stroke: 53

While there’s no such thing as a “good time to have a stroke,” Penny, who works as a manager at The Heart Hospital, was at work when she had her stroke on May 22, 2013. Heart specialists, including cardiologists, recognized her signs and symptoms right away and rushed her to the emergency room. She was having a stroke, with symptoms including facial drooping and weakness on her left side. She was recommended to receive a powerful clot-dissolving drug and she received it very quickly. Penny now has no negative effects from her stroke because of this fast treatment. She enjoys her role in helping others know more about heart health—a good fit, since heart health and stroke prevention are very closely related.

OX TOWNSEND, age 64 — Age at time of stroke: 63

Larry “Ox” Townsend will tell you that his stroke was the beginning of his second life. After his stroke in May 2014, Ox has changed his lifestyle and his outlook. He’s lost more than 50 pounds, walks every day, and has made dietary changes—including no longer eating fast food. Ox is married to a Deaconess stroke nurse who recognized his stroke symptoms and got him to Deaconess, where he was treated with tPA quickly. Ox has worked in management and human resources at a company in Henderson, Kentucky, for more than 40 years, and he is also well-known as a former youth baseball coach. Ox is a passionate stroke spokesperson—teaching others the signs and symptoms of stroke and reminding people to take care of their health.

RICHARD TEPOOL, age 77 — Age at time of stroke: 75

Richard was at home when he became disoriented and fell on March 7, 2013. He started to go to the doctor but thought he was feeling better, so he returned home. The next day his daughter came to check on him and realized something was seriously wrong. She rushed him to the emergency room, and he was treated for a stroke that was worsening with each passing hour. He spent five days at Deaconess and then five weeks at HealthSouth Deaconess Rehabilitation Hospital. When he arrived at HealthSouth he was in a wheelchair, but on Easter Sunday, March 31, he took a few careful steps. He now walks daily, and while he has a limp and struggles with many right-handed tasks, he is able to drive and live at home in Haubstadt. He is also a regular attendee of the post-stroke support group that meets monthly at HealthSouth Deaconess, where he is able to share experiences and encourage others who are recovering from stroke.