A Stroke of Luck
Most people aren’t glad that they’ve been pulled over for speeding. But Mesa residents Sheila Levine and her husband, Cliff, are actually grateful it happened to them.
It was January 26, 2010. Sheila was talking to a friend on the phone when she began garbling words and sentences. Alarmed, the friend contacted Cliff. Before long, he was rushing Sheila—who was having a stroke—to a nearby Mesa hospital.
That’s when the flashing lights appeared. The officer quickly assessed the situation and called an ambulance.
When the paramedics arrived, they took Sheila to Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn Medical Center—even though the Mesa hospital was closer. In fact, it was literally within sight.
“They told us that we’d be glad we went to Scottsdale Healthcare and we sure were,” says Sheila, explaining that the Osborn Medical Center has a Stroke Center.
Neurologist Richard Goodell, MD at the Stroke Center cleared Sheila to receive Tissue Plasminogen Activator (tPA), a powerful medicine that dissolves blood clots. When additional treatment was needed, interventional neuroradiologist Peter Sunenshine, MD performed a mechanical thrombolytic procedure using the Penumbra system. Simply put, he used a device that acts like a vacuum to remove the stroke-causing blood clot in Sheila’s brain, allowing blood to flow in the vessel previously blocked by the clot.
“I had to lay flat for a while, but I didn’t even have a stitch,” says Sheila, who recalls that earlier her face had been droopy on the right side and her right hand was unable to hold the phone.
By the next morning, Sheila was back to her normal self and talking to staff members at the Stroke Center about books and her work as a reference librarian at a public library. A few days later, she was back at home. Shortly after that, Sheila returned to work.
“I’m very, very fortunate that my friend knew something was wrong and that the police stopped us so we ended up at the Stroke Center at Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn Medical Center. The care and technology there was unbelievable,” says Sheila.
She adds that everyone from doctors and nurses to nursing assistants and therapists did all they could to help her recover, and the neurological intervention team communicated continually with her husband.
“I especially appreciate that the people at Scottsdale Healthcare went out of their way to make my family and friends comfortable and keep my husband informed,” says Sheila.