GORHAM, Maine — A Gorham man who suffered a stroke believes his wife's quick thinking to get him to a hospital saved his life.
Spirit Eagle fell down in his home in April. He felt weak, and was unable to speak coherent sentences. His wife, Spirit Dove, called 911 immediately.
Eagle was taken to Maine Medical Center, where doctors determined he had an acclusion of right middle cerebral artery, the main artery that goes to right side of brain.
Dr. Robert Ecker, one of the directors of neurosurgery, said Eagle had weakness on left side of his arm and his leg, in addition to speech issues.
Dr. Ecker said Eagle got a clot-busting agent called "TPA," and was brought to the angiography department to get the clot removed. Dr. Ecker said this method is the standard of care if the stroke is salvageable.
He said the clot likely came from Eagle's heart. He said Eagle has atrial fibrillation, a heart condition.
After the procedure, Eagle's weaknesses resolved.
"It was very serious. If you don't take out that clot, folks can have very large strokes that leave them with permanent disability," said Dr. Ecker.
He said that method of treatment now gets 70 percent of patients independent in 90 days. Old figures that used IV treatments alone only resulted in less than 30 percent of patients able to be independent in 90 days.
"It makes a profound difference in patients' lives," said Dr. Ecker. "The ability to get someone back to their normal life from a horrible injury and to see that person become productive again -- I don't think there's anything else like that,."
May is Stroke Awareness Month, and doctors want people to know that timing is incredibly important to positive outcomes.
Doctors preach the "FAST" method for identifying a stroke:
F: Face drooping on one side
A: Arm weakness or drifting, incapable of holding it up against gravity
S: Speech is garbled, incapable of speaking a coherent sentence
T: Time to act, call 911
"Timing is incredibly important. Strokes are not painful like heart attacks," Dr. Ecker said of recognizing symptoms.
"It's like Lazarus like outcome. Taking someone from a period of mortality if they have a big enough stroke, and you see them normalize on the table there's really nothing in medicine for me that is comparable."
There are risk factors for stroke: previous strokes, high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, and family history.
Dr. Ecker said diet and exercise can fight most of those risk factors.
Eagle is vacationing in Texas, enjoying his life after stroke.