Ronald Eckert was running errands today, driving from his home in Manlius to downtown Syracuse for assistance applying for Medicare (he turns 65 in August) and then out to Fairmount for advance work on the annual summer “Vettes at the Beach” show.
They were mundane errands on a dreary, cold Friday. What’s amazing is that Eckert is able to do the errands at all.
He suffered a stroke two weeks ago. Not only did he survive, his recovery was quick, and he has no lasting damage.
Eckert will share his story at the annual regional stroke conference sponsored by Upstate May 5. Among the speakers are the experts who took care of him two weeks ago.
Here’s what happened.
Friday April 13 was like any other day. Eckert got up and had coffee with his wife, and then they worked out together while watching Good Morning America. Eckert finished on the treadmill and went to the basement to do his pushups and sit ups.
“I got up, and I fell on the floor,” he remembers.
His glasses fell from his face. He called his wife to come get them. His right side was limp. She took one look at Eckert and ran back upstairs to call 911. He was upset she did not retrieve his glasses.
Eckert remembers riding in the ambulance. He kept pulling his right arm on top of his torso. It kept falling to the side. Over and over, he put his arm back on his torso.
Eckert did not know it at the time, but he was having an ischemic stroke, meaning a clot was blocking a blood vessel in his brain. At Upstate, he underwent a sophisticated clot-retrieval procedure. Amar Swarnkar MD, an interventional neuro-radiologist, threaded a catheter through a blood vessel and advanced a device called the Solitaire stent to the clot. He captured the clot and removed it with the stent from the body through the catheter.
All Eckert remembers is suddenly being able to feel his right arm again.
Later in the day, nurses evaluated him by asking what day it was, and what he had done for a living. He knew the day, and he could describe his work, but he couldn’t find the words “heating, ventilation and air conditioning.” He felt confused.
He spent the night in the intensive care unit. The next day, he was clear-headed and could answer the questions on his evaluation. He underwent tests of his heart, of the arteries in his neck, of the veins in his legs. He got up and walked.
When he was alone and quiet in his hospital bed, Eckert reflected on what he went through. Everything happened so fast, much of it seemed a blur.
Before he left the hospital, he asked to see the doctor who removed the clot from his brain.
“You have magical hands,” Eckert told him.
Then he did something he came close to losing the ability to do that Friday, April 13. He extended his right hand to shake the doctor’s.
Attend the stroke conference
The all-day stroke conference is designed for health care professionals including physicians, nurses, therapists, administrators and emergency medical technicians. It will include lectures, open forums and case presentations about stroke care and cerebrovascular disease and will be held in Upstate’s Weiskotten Hall. Register by calling 464-8668.