Ron Kolar's Story
At age 76, Ron Kolar never believed he would have a stroke. He was active, enjoying his life in retirement with his wife. All of that changed one April morning when Kolar was reading instructions for his cell phone.
"Once I began reading, the simple instructions did not make any sense. I read the directions out loud and slurred my words. My wife called to me and I was unable to speak clearly," Kolar explains about the morning he had his stroke.
Recognizing that something was wrong, Kolar had his wife rush him to the St. Joseph's Hospital in Breese, Illinois. After evaluating and testing, the Emergency Department team determined that Kolar was having a stroke.
"The doctor explained to us that there was a clot blocking the flow of blood to my brain. After my physician consulted with the team at Saint Louis University Hospital, they determined I was a good candidate for a special clot dissolving drug," says Kolar. "My wife and I considered the risks of taking the drug. There was a chance the drug would cause my stroke to bleed out into my brain. We decided a better chance at recovery was worth the risk so they proceeded to administer the drug."
Ron Kolar received a tissue plasmonigen activator, or tPA, a powerful clot dissolving drug, and was transported by ambulance to Saint Louis University Hospital for further monitoring and treatment.
"I was confident in the care that I was receiving at St. Joseph's. They had a nurse ride along with me while I was in the ambulance on my way to SLU Hospital. When I arrived in St. Louis, they were waiting at the door for me. They hooked me up to all sorts of monitors and I knew St. Joseph's arranged for the best care for me," explains Kolar about his experience going through the MidAmerica Stroke Network.
"Every now and then I still jumble my words together. If I just think about what I want to say and speak slowly, I do just fine. I could not be happier with the treatment that I received at both St. Joseph's Hospital and at SLU Hospital. I am feeling great now and I just played my best 18 holes of golf in years."
- Ronald W. Kolar, 76
Charles Owen's Story
The day before was business as usual. Charles Owen was busy outside doing yard work and went out to visit with friends later that night. The next day was another story. Owen was in the bathroom when his symptoms struck. He could not speak clearly and his right arm and leg were paralyzed.
"I was in the bathroom. I felt fine before and then I was confused. I couldn't move my right arm or leg," explains Owen about when his stroke first hit.
Owen's wife heard noises and went in to check on him. She was terrified that her husband was trying to speak and didn't make any sense. She recognized that something was wrong and immediately called 911.
An ambulance took Owen to Heartland Regional Medical Center in Marion, Illinois. At Heartland, Owen was evaluated and it was determined that he had clots blocking the flow of blood in his brain - he was having a stroke.
"They gave me tPA at Heartland to treat the blood clots in my brain. Then, I was in a helicopter on my way to Saint Louis University Hospital within two hours after having my stroke," says Owen.
When Owen arrived at SLU Hospital, the team acted quickly to treat the two clots that were still blocking blood flow. Owen received a carotid stent to treat the large clot in his neck. The SLU Hospital stroke specialists then went in with a special clot retrieval tool and extracted the clot that was in his brain.
Owen remained at SLU Hospital for eight days for close monitoring and on going treatment. "I noticed after the treatment I received at Heartland and SLU Hospital that I was moving forward into recovery. I was starting to regain my speech abilities and movement on the right side of my body," explains Owen. "I was discharged from SLU Hospital back to Heartland to be closer to home for therapy."
"I still have problems with my voice and speech, but my right arm and leg are doing better. I can walk on my own," says Owen. "This stroke has been bad, but I am here with my wife and I am getting better."
-Charles Owen, 72