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'I just feel very, very fortunate': West MI man raises awareness about strokes

“I just feely very, very fortunate"; West MI man raises awareness about strokes
Posted at 10:27 PM, May 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-30 22:21:51-04

MICHIGAN (WXMI) — Chad Thompson considers himself lucky.

“I just feely very, very fortunate,” said the 39-year-old father in a recent interview with FOX 17.

Just over a month ago, Thompson thought he would never be able to speak.

“Staring out of the back windows of the ambulance and wondering what’s going on, is this the new normal? A million thoughts running through my head,” said Thompson.

At the end of April, after a day of yard work with his brother, Thompson suffered a stroke.

“I kept dropping stuff and picking it up,” said Thompson. “[I] probably did this 10 to 15 times.”

Thompson says he also had difficulty with his vision and the right side of his body felt numb.

Fortunately, his sister-in-law noticed his symptoms too and urged Thompson's brother to take him to the hospital near their home in Big Rapids.

“Had they not sought help quickly, had his brain had a permanent neurological injury, somebody at his age would be very limited over the course of his life and here he is back at home and able to live a very normal life,” said Dr. Justin Singer, a neurosurgeon with Spectrum Health.

Singer treated Thompson after he was transferred to Butterworth Hospital.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a stroke is a leading cause of death in the United States and a major cause of serious disability for adults, yet medical professionals call strokes preventable and treatable.

Singer explains symptoms usually happen suddenly and while scary, people need to know the acronym “Be Fast” in order to help those who suffer a stroke.

May marks Stroke Awareness Month.

  • Balance: Loss of balance, dizziness, or coordination 
  • Eyes: Blurred vision 
  • Face: One side of the face is drooping 
  • Arms: Arm or leg weakness 
  • Speech: Speech difficulty 
  • Time: Time to call for ambulance immediately 

“Every minute that the brain is deprived of oxygen in that area, two million [brain] cells die,” said Singer. “Your cells need oxygen.”

Singer adds that when patients ignore how they feel, it limits their treatment options.

Since Thompson sought help quickly, doctors gave him clot-busting medication then performed a minimally invasive procedure to remove it from his head.

“The earlier the better, but if for some reason it’s later because somebody didn’t notice the symptoms early enough, you should still come,” said Singer.

High blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking increase a person’s risk for stroke according to the CDC.

It’s almost more common among older adults and women.

A recently retired K-9 handler with the Mecosta County Sheriff’s Office, it’s still unknown why Thompson suffered a stroke, but he says he understands his luck in the situation.

“If you think you’re safe, even being in good health, it could happen, so don’t discount somebody showing those symptoms,” said Thompson.