The fourth weekend in April had been typical for Jon and Brenda Stieber of Oconomowoc. On Saturday, the couple went for a long bike ride. On Sunday, they kayaked on Golden Lake.
As Stieber was putting the kayaks away in the couple’s shed, his vision suddenly blurred and he thought a lens had fallen out of his eyeglasses. Then he couldn’t move his right arm and leg.
“I thought, this isn’t good,” he said. “I have to get onto the lawn where Brenda can see me.”
He can’t recall how he managed to stumble to the lawn. Fortunately, his wife did see him and ran to his side. A neighbor also arrived.
“It was as if there was a line down my body,” Stieber said. “My left side was tingling. I didn’t have control over anything on my right side.”
Brenda Stieber called 911 and they heard the nearby fire station’s ambulance siren. Within minutes they were en route to ProHealth Oconomowoc Memorial Hospital’s emergency department.
The emergency medical technicians alerted the hospital’s emergency team that they were on their way, enabling Stieber to receive a CT scan upon arrival. Physicians confirmed that Stieber had experienced a stroke but did not have any bleeding in his brain. After consulting with Timothy Westlake, MD, Stieber chose to receive the intravenous clot-busting medication TPA. The treatment took about 30 minutes and proved to be very effective.
Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States and is a leading cause of adult disability. On average, someone suffers a stroke every 40 seconds and someone dies of a stroke every four minutes.
“It’s very scary,” Stieber said. “You don’t know what’s going to happen.”
In the Oconomowoc Memorial intensive care unit, Stieber began to regain function. By Tuesday afternoon, he could walk around and the ProHealth team arranged for his next level of care to begin at ProHealth Rehabilitation Hospital of Wisconsin in Waukesha. Within an hour, the Stiebers were headed there in their own car.
Located at 1625 Coldwater Creek Drive, ProHealth Rehabilitation Hospital of Wisconsin provides comprehensive treatment programs designed to help individuals regain their independence and return home after an injury, illness or surgery.
“At Oconomowoc Memorial and the Rehabilitation Hospital, they kept me well-informed,” Stieber said. “They really cared about getting me better and back out there.”
The next day, he started speech, occupational and physical therapy at the Rehabilitation Hospital.
“Every day I woke up I had more function and control,” he said. “On Thursday my vision returned to normal. By Friday I felt very good and that afternoon I went home.”
After visiting ProHealth’s rehabilitation services team for two outpatient vestibular therapy visits for balance issues, Stieber was cleared to continue healing independently. His ProHealth doctors are working to find the cause of the stroke. Tests have not yet pinpointed the trigger.
Stieber is taking medication to help reduce the risk for another stroke. His only remaining symptom is some fatigue in the afternoons, and naps have helped with that.
He is continuing his balance exercises and uses the treadmill and free weights at the gym every day. He’s also taking short bike rides and doing household chores again. He hopes to go kayaking soon and can’t wait to join his friends for their next weekend fishing trip.
On May 27, his 59th birthday, Stieber spent the day with family and friends who also were celebrating his brother-in-law’s 60th birthday.
Stieber said he’s grateful that he has recovered so well and that the stroke didn’t affect his critical thinking. After two weeks of working part time, he returned to work full time on May 30. He is a senior project engineer who specializes in control systems design for digital money handling systems.
“I don’t know if it was the TPA or the prayers or both, but the recovery was very quick,” he said. “I wouldn’t recommend having a stroke, but if you do, get to the hospital.”
ProHealth Care hospitals are nationally recognized for stroke care
ProHealth Oconomowoc Memorial Hospital has received the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With the Guidelines-Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award for eight consecutive years, including 2017. ProHealth Waukesha Memorial Hospital has received the award for nine years, including 2017.
The award recognizes hospitals that demonstrate 85 percent or greater compliance in each of the seven Get With the Guidelines stroke achievement measures over a period of 24 months or longer. In addition, hospitals must achieve 75 percent compliance or greater with five of eight Get With the Guidelines-Stroke Quality measures.
Oconomowoc Memorial and Waukesha Memorial also meet Joint Commission guidelines as Primary Stroke Centers, which means that they use nationally recognized guidelines for rapid treatment of stroke designed to improve patient outcomes and prevent future strokes.
The Joint Commission also has certified ProHealth Rehabilitation Hospital of Wisconsin as a Center of Excellence for stroke rehabilitation. The hospital also has been accredited by the Joint Commission since 2008.
To help reduce stroke risk and detect carotid artery disease early, ProHealth Heart & Vascular Care offers a three-part vascular screening for people 55 and older. The screening also tests for abdominal aortic aneurysm and peripheral artery disease. To learn more about the screening, visit ProHealthCare.org/VascularScreening.
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For more than a century, ProHealth Care has been the health care leader in Waukesha County and surrounding areas, providing outstanding care across a full spectrum of services. The people of ProHealth Care strive to continuously improve the health and well-being of the community by combining skill, compassion and innovation. The ProHealth family includes ProHealth Waukesha Memorial Hospital, ProHealth Oconomowoc Memorial Hospital, ProHealth Rehabilitation Hospital of Wisconsin, ProHealth Medical Group, the UW Cancer Center at ProHealth Care, Moreland Surgery Center, ProHealth AngelsGrace Hospice, ProHealth Home Care, ProHealth West Wood Health & Fitness Center and ProHealth Regency Senior Communities. Learn more at ProHealthCare.org.