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Back to Summer 2021

A stroke of luck

Being in the right place at the right time gave this stroke survivor the best chance for a full recovery

It was business as usual on a normal Tuesday in September 2020 for Martin Grabanski, Director of Facilities at CRMC, when he received a text from a colleague about a maintenance issue.

He suddenly noticed something very unusual.

"When I went to read the text, I couldn’t," Grabanski recalls. "The screen looked like shattered glass, and letters were missing."

He asked Sharon Hagan, Project Coordinator at CRMC, if she could read it, and she said it looked fine. Upon looking around the room, Grabanski noticed everything around him looked fragmented. The American flag hanging in his office looked as though it had been broken apart and haphazardly pieced back together.

Luckily his office is just steps from the employee health nurse, who promptly sent him directly to the Emergency Department (ED).

Something very wrong

In the ED, Grabanski was quickly assessed with a series of questions and was shown pictures of various items, such as keys and gloves. He says he knew what the items were but could not say their names. The words simply would not come out.

"It was surreal to know what I wanted to say but not be able to articulate it," says Grabanski. "I knew something was very wrong and really began to worry whether or not I was going to be OK."

Once the assessment was complete, the physician ordered a CT scan, which showed that Grabanski had experienced an ischemic stroke.

Quick action

Grabanski needed special medicine, known as tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), to break up the clot. Treatment with tPA is effective for people with an ischemic stroke as long as it is received intravenously within three hours of the onset of symptoms.

After Grabanski received the tPA, his blood pressure was still elevated, and there was concern the clot could be traveling through his system. As a precaution he was transferred to MU Health Care.

Fortunately, by the time he got to MU Health Care’s neuro ICU, the clot had completely dissolved! Grabanski stayed just a few days as a patient at MU for observation.

Fortunate outcome

"I’m a lucky guy!" says Grabanski. "My doctor at MU says that less than 5% of patients show no evidence of a clot on their CT scan, and mine was completely dissolved!"

Grabanski returned to work less than a week after having a stroke and credits the quick work of the ED stroke team for helping him get completely back to normal and possibly saving his life.

"I learned through this not to take anything for granted," says Grabanski. "I now look for the brighter side of things and don’t sweat the small stuff quite so much."

Act F.A.S.T.—Know the sudden signs of stroke

Face drooping. Does one side of the face droop? Is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is the smile uneven?

Arm weakness. Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

Speech difficulty. Is speech slurred or hard to understand? Can the person repeat back a simple sentence?

Time to call 911—even if the signs go away. Getting fast treatment may help limit damage to the brain.

Source: American Stroke Association

Meet Martin Grabanski

Spending time with his six grandchildren; hunting; fishing; and whittling, a newfound hobby, are just a few things Grabanski appreciates now more than ever after experiencing a stroke. With the help of colleagues and medical staff at CRMC, where Grabanski has worked for 10 years, and the MU Health Care stroke team, he beat the odds with a positive outcome.

Categories: Stroke care

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